Saturday, April 9, 2011


The letter H is for Highlighters.

Yes ... that little inky tool. Yes ... I'm going to write a whole blog post about it.

If you are a writer, there are so many great uses for highlighters. A while back I had read that during revisions, a writer would cut apart her printed manuscript and organize it by characters to make sure the writing was consistent. I read somewhere else that another writer did something similiar during revisions for dialogue.

That all sounds great - - but a bit too ambitious for me.

Then, I realized, I could do something similiar with highlighters! So, here's what's happening for my current revision process/project:
1. I revise the ms (about 15 pages at a time)
2. First critique partner rips it apart
3. I revise again
4. Second cp rips it apart
5. I revise again
6. I print it out
7. I highlight the passages. I have a different color highlighter for each significant character in my story.
8. I three hole punch the pages and put into a binder.
9. I am letting those pages sit as I continue the revise/critique/revise/critique/revise process 15 pages at a time. (I know, seems like a long tedious process. But it really is working well.)
10. Once all of the pages are printed and highlighted in the binder, then I will do one more revision. I will go through working on ONE COLOR at a time, making sure the character traits, dialogue, and voice are distinct and consistent.

I'll let you know how it works. Feel free to tell me if you think I'm nutso, or if you have a better system. I'm not cutting apart the pages and taping them to my wall. I've seen pictures of writers who do that!

Here's another great use for highlighters in the writer's life ...

When reading a book on the craft of writing, I am in love with these:

I don't think I can read a "craft" book without one any more! I use the highlighter tip to mark a passage, tip, or tool that strikes me. Then, if something really stands out that I want to implement into my own writing right away, I tag the page with one of the little post-it notes. No more pages with folded corners! YAY. I love these pens!!

What do you use a highlighter for?


  1. Wow, this sounds like a kind of fun process! :D I like the idea of doing a bit at a time, and also revising before sending onto a 2nd CP :)

    oh, and I love stationery in general, which naturally includes highlighters. hehe

  2. I use software to colour code and index code my writing these days. Always used to annoy me when I reached for a highlighter to find the cap had been left off and it had dried out.

  3. I'm on the reader's camp. I usually use it to highlight important information for later.

    Nice to meet you through the A-Z challenge! Hope to see you around!

  4. I hardly use highlighters. I just scribble pencil and red pen over everything! :o)

    Jessica @ The Alliterative Allomporph

  5. I used a highlighter on my favourite 'how to' book and there was so much I wanted to remember that I went wild, and now I have difficulty in reading it. :0)

  6. Wow - I've printed off pages and highlighted, and I use the comment reviewer as a Nazi highlighter, but not like that. You're amazing.

    I tend to use my highlighters when I read writing books too. And post-its in those really good books I occasionally turn back to.

  7. Highlighters are my favorite things! I use them the same way and when I read any book, I mark my thinking and important parts. Loved this post!

  8. I have been doing this for years, using a special color code and colored mini postits for page markers. I am a office supply junkie and number one fan of HIGHLIGHTING pens :) Loved your post.

  9. I sometimes go through my MS and use a different high lighter color for each of the senses. I can then *see* if I've used too much sight and/or almost nothing about hearing or taste etc.

  10. I'm in love with highlighters and post it notes, though I really couldn't tell you what I use them for! I do absolutely love writing with a pencil though.

  11. Ooo I love highlighters! I use them for everything...revising, reading, organizing. All of it! Great post!

  12. Love the post. I'm going to give it a try.

  13. I love post it flag highlighters. I mostly use my highlighters when I'm reading a writing nook. I never thought of using them in editing and revising. Sounds like a good idea.

  14. That's surely a fab way to use a highlighter!!!! Never thought of the "characters" to be marked with diff colors..thanks for the great tips!!! and keep us posted on how it works out.

    Following you from A-Z challenge!

  15. This is great! I love your editing process, I think I might take some ideas from it for myself. Thanks for sharing :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  16. What don't I use them for? And stick it notes! Brilliant inventions ;)
    Love how you use them, I often use them when I'm working with a client on their resume, different colours to tie bits together, so I guess a variation on your theme. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :) Sue@JumpingAground (alliteration & drabbles)
    Sue@traverselife(Workplace bullying)

  17. Hi-Liters, Post-its and flags -- I use them for everything. I hi-lite in Word and use the Post-it gadget all the time. If I could change the color of the gadget pages my virtual story board would be complete.

  18. I haven't gotten to the revision process yet but I have used them on my books about writing. It was hard to highlight them at first but grew frustrated at not being able to find something I've read.

  19. I love highlighters! I print out a draft, read through looking for specific words and then highlight in different colors (depending on the words). I highlight words that I tend to overuse or generic/weak words.

  20. What a cool idea! Thanks for sharing. I have highlighters that smell like fruit. Kind of makes me feel like a kid (and revising is more fun).

  21. I have bought highlighters just because I liked their colors. I have just colored pictures with them. Oh, I could spend hours in a stationery store looking at all the cool pens and nifty gadgets..