Scott Sparling

Hallucinations, a blog about writing, trains, and Wire to Wire

Pick A Number

Posted on Nov 23rd, 2014.

I’ve been using a random number generator lately to help me edit my manuscript. I started by printing the whole thing out and putting it in one of those cheap, plastic comb binders. It’s 353 pages, but I don’t want to mess with the first thirty right now. So, when I’m editing, I go to and set the parameters at 30 and 353. It generates a number, and I go to that page and make any changes on the hard copy. Then I get another number and go to that page, working my way randomly through the manuscript.

There are 50 pages left now, so frequently the number takes me to a page I’ve already done—in which case I just find the closest unedited page.

Why am I doing this? Mainly because I find it much less painful this way. I kind of dread going through the manuscript sequentially, but I don’t mind reading individual pages. This way keeps me from getting bogged down in bad spots, and I’m not tempted to change the story. It helps me look at sentences with a much more specifc attention. Oddly, the random sample helps me stay alert to tone and consistency. Finally, it adds an element of playfulness that I think is really helpful. It reminds me that while I want to be productive, I also want to have fun.

So, back to work. The number I just got is 59.




I've got your number right here. New video by Miley Cyrus.

Posted in Writing