27 August 2006 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 4 comments

I’m now in the process of tweaking and editing my own work. I typically prefer to get things down on paper and then do a lot of tweaking, editing, and rewriting as I go. I print out the manuscript and work off a hard copy. I will typically take three or four passes at it before entering the revisions into the computer. I use a different color ink for each pass in order to make it easy for me to tell when I’ve made a change. For this first pass at the Dahlgren manuscript, I’m using a green pen. The next pass will be red, the third pass will be in purple, and if I do a fourth pass at it, I will probably use black. When that process is completed, the work is then ready to be sent out for review and comment by a select group of friends who read virtually everything that I write.

My first drafts tend to be plagued by too much passive voice, and eradicating it and making those constructions active tends to be the focus of the first editing pass at the draft. The other drafts focus on fine-tuning and tightening things up. By the time I’ve gotten through my review process, I’ve pretty much done what I can do with the thing, as I can no longer even see problems any more.

I’m nearly finished with my first pass at the Dahlgren manuscript, and should finish that first pass tomorrow night. There’s plenty of green ink bleeding all over the manuscript, and I will definitely have my work cut out for me when the time comes to input all of the changes. I will then take a couple of days off and then pitch into my second pass.

By the time that this process is completed, I’m thoroughly sick and tired of the thing, largely incapable of even looking at it again for a while. It’s a good thing that it typically takes my readers a month or two to go through the draft and get it back to me, because I DEFINITELY need the time away from the manuscript.

I will keep everyone posted as to my progress.

Scridb filter


  1. Mon 28th Aug 2006 at 10:59 am

    I (and probably others) do a very similar thing. For some reason, like you, I can’t do a full edit on the computer screen. I also like to print a piece out and edit it on paper. That’s the only way to really see it in a similar perspective to it being printed in book form.

    Maybe it shows our age – we are about the last generation to have done everything on paper when in school, and it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks…

    You old dog, you ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Michael Aubrecht
    Thu 31st Aug 2006 at 1:41 pm

    “we are about the last generation to have done everything on paper”… you guys actually used… paper? I’ve heard of such things, but I always thought it was an old-wife’s tale. If you did everything on paper, what did you use your Laptops and PDA’s for? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously though, like you guys – by the time my manuscripts are in the first (and definitely in the second) editing stages, I can’t even look at them anymore. Thank God for editors. I’ve read each of my books once through (from cover to cover) – exactly one time (after they went to press) and that was enough for me.

  3. Bill Bergen
    Wed 06th Sep 2006 at 8:20 pm


    I assume you have seen this in the TOC of the latest North & South, but I just wanted to be sure:

    “Lincoln, Davis, and the Dahlgren Raid” by David E. Long
    A leading Civil War scholar makes the case that Abraham Lincoln, to
    promote the prospect of peace in 1864, conceived and authorized an
    attempt on the life of Jefferson Davis, and young officer Ulric Dahlgren
    was the agent he selected to carry out the mission.

  4. Wed 06th Sep 2006 at 10:02 pm


    I am indeed familiar with Professor Long and his theory–he is the leading proponent of the “Lincoln not only knew, he ordered it” school of thought. I provided him with some material on Dahlgren that made it into his book manuscript.


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