Sometimes, we can get on a roll with writing, work up a momentum. Stopping to look up a particular word or to write a detailed description can interrupt the momentum for me. So I use place holders. For words I am unsure of, I use underlining with a ?.
Since I’m on a draft 542 (it feels like) of my work in progress, some things I have already described. Five hundred and forty-two times. After all of that, I did not want to describe the military base one more time. In typing my rough draft last week, I came across this place holder that made me smile: (in the margins) “insert description from another draft” (in the body) “He ascended the front steps and opened the great doors. (mess of cubicles, soldiers bustling about).”
I think I’ve mentioned before the placeholder for the description I just was not in the mood to write: “She had her first real view of the city. It was very large.”
:-) So don’t be afraid to stick in place holders when you need to go back over something or don’t want to interrupt your momentum.
One word of advice: be consistent. In one draft, I used an * for everything I had a question about or needed to go back over. When I was in revision mode, I just did a ‘find’ option with my word processor. For my current draft, I’ve been using (?). I just search for ‘?)’ and find all of my questions!
“Before he could answer, the door opened and three soldiers came out.
(description of commander)
ruddy beard, well-built and muscled (in spite of age?) air of authority”