Art of Revision—The Rainbow Manuscript technique
I started using colorful fonts when revising after Martine Leavitt, my advisor at Vermont College of Fine Arts asked me to make all my changes in red.
My manuscript was bleeding after I was done:
|Screenshots of my novel, River at 10% zoom. Shown|
are the beginning (top), middle, and end (bottom.)
Yes, I made that many changes; the changes represent a deep revision.
As I worked I grew to love red font!
Because all red words are better words, better sentences, and even new scenes at times, I have grown to think of red as a positive writing color, instead of the color that marks all my mistakes.
|Later revision of River|
Using another font color lets me see what I’m doing, or what I recently changed. In some cases it is helpful when I read through my novel the next time, as I can see what I changed. Other times, the red font was just for the process, and I switch the font all back to black before I work on it again..
Also, if I work for several hours or a couple days and feel I didn’t make much headway, I can look at the colorful font, and realize, yes, I did make good progress.
I don’t use colored font with every draft. It’s not useful to me in early drafts.
Occasionally, if I need to both be aware of the last changes I made and need to track my current changes as I take an additional revision pass, I’ll add another color, like blue. If I move a substantial passage, I may mark those sentences with another font color for those passages.
By the end of the revision pass, at least temporarily, I have a rainbow manuscript.
|Screenshot of my novel, Crossings-a late revision at 10% zoom|