The highlighter is mightier than the pen, which is also therefor, mightier than the sword! At least in the world of editing it is. This technique is essential for editing your opening and perhaps your whole story.
While reading the October issue of Writer’s Digest this beautiful side bar gave the best advice I’ve seen ALL YEAR for editing. It is an excerpt from The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings by Paula Munier. If you haven’t had a chance to read the excerpt or the book I recommend it especially with Pitch Wars right around the corner.
Munier recommends starting with your opening pages and three different colored highlighters. You can do this printed out, which is my preference, or you can use the highlighter feature in your word processor. It looks like this:
Now highlight your words by category. You decide what color to use for each and make a little code box so you remember later for editing.
Backstory: Things that have happened in the past, before this moment in the story.
Description: Things like setting and theme.
Inner Monologue: How a character feels or what they think.
What this should leave un-highlighted is action and plot. This is the essence of your story’s movement and pace.
Seeing the colors can you pinpoint where you’ve gone overboard? What needs cut? What needs a boost? I hope you’ve found this exercise as helpful as I have. I’ll be picking up a copy of Munier’s book on my next bookshop trip to discover what other wonderful tips she can give me.
What other things could you highlight to help with edits? I’d love reasons to use more highlighter colors. Share below!