Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Wonders of Pen and Paper #WriterlyWednesdays

The Wonders of Pen and Paper

Now I am the first person to reach for the keyboard most of the time when I'm writing. I know some people swear by pen and paper for their first draft, but I just can't write fast enough to keep up with my brain.

Well I can, but reading what I have written afterwards is like trying to decipher hieroglyphs without the Rosetta stone :).

I haven't used anything except a keyboard to write fiction since I was at uni. My fingers work much faster when typing than they do with a pen. If I try and write fiction by hand I always end up frustrated and with sentences that have a whole heap of words missing. Pen and paper tend to be strictly for notes when I'm writing.


There is one thing for which I find pen and paper really, really useful: proof reading.

There are many other techniques for finding errors in writing:
  • change the orientation of the page
  • add in columns
  • read out loud
  • put it on an eReader or phone
  • etc.
Printing out the fiction and going through it with a red pen is another option that can be incredibly useful. I'm currently proofing my novel Dead Before Dawn: The Vampire Curse (available free to read on Wattpad) for paperback and it's amazing what the eye picks up when changing medium from screen to page.

There is no substitute for another set of eyes on our fiction, there's no getting away from that, but even the best editor might miss something (I've found more than my fair share of typos in traditionally published books). It can be the silliest things, for example, a missing carriage return under a chapter title or an 's' missed off one word. I've found that paper and a pen is a great help in finding these last few tiny errors that the eye just misses on the screen.

Anything that makes us re-read the words on the page rather than skimming over them because our brains have become used to the layout and know what there can be useful. We have wonderful pattern recognition skills, it's what makes us so versatile, but when we're looking for mistakes this can be very unhelpful. We see what we want to see, not what is actually there. Hence, shaking up what we are looking at really helps.

I know printing uses paper and ink, but that's why there's a duplex and draft option on the printer and I recycle the paper once it's finished with. I try very hard to only print out one copy and sometimes we just have to go with what works.

Do you find printing out your work helps you to iron out the final wrinkles in your novel/story or do you prefer other methods?


Defence, Pretence, Offence (Harry Potter, Harry/Draco, NC17)

So my latest Harry Potter fanfiction is now up to chapter 8 and things are getting exciting.

Summary: The threat of open war in on the horizon. The Order and the Ministry are of one accord and both know that where Harry Potter is, Voldemort will eventually be. Preparations are being made and this time the side of the light will not be caught unawares.

Summer classes, sabotage, revelations about Draco's father, teaching and the final showdown with Voldemort all await Harry and Draco in this exciting sequel to Gold Tinted Spectacles (LJ | AO3 | Wattpad).

Link to all parts: LJ | DW | AO3 | Wattpad 

New chapters will be posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


  1. I use pen and paper to outline and for writing parts of my first drafts, although the latter tends to be when I don't have access to my computer. I can definately relate to your statement "reading what I have written afterwards is like trying to decipher hieroglyphs without the Rosetta stone..." as that is what my scrawl is like. That was even the case when I was a journalist, although the alternative of a tape recorder meant transcribing...........................

    1. It transcribing as fun as trying to work out one's own hand writing? :)

      I have absolutely lovely handwriting when I use a proper pen and write slowly (we were taught calligraphy at primary school), but neither the correct pen nor the writing slowly ever happen in normal circumstances :) The result is something half way between cursive and shorthand, which might be good if I knew shorthand - LOL

    2. Transcribing can be great fun...deciphering meanings, especially as my interviews were done outside and with background noise like loudspeakers - sports journalism/horses.

    3. I think it would drive me nuts :)

  2. I used to print out my WIPs to do a read through, but I haven't done that lately. It has slipped my mind. Maybe next draft I'll do that.

    1. I always feel guilty about the paper, but, as a final measure it really does seem to work. We haven't had a printer for six months since our last one broke, but we finally bought a new one.


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