Finished the First Draft
Once you have poured your heart and soul onto the page, you can’t help dreaming this manuscript could be a best seller. I think most writers have that thought cross their mind each time they type The End.
Before you start planning on spending the millions your book is going to make, you need to do a couple of things first.
- Set the work aside for a week to a month, depending on how impatient you are. Let things settle in your mind, work on another piece of writing or an outline for a new story. Do not touch what you just finished, no matter how great the urge.
Tic-toc. Tic-toc. Tic-toc.
- Time has passed. Pick up the manuscript you finished and read it. Keep a notebook handy, because you will find things that need to be fixed. Whether it’s punctuation, grammar, or plot holes. Make note of these problems.
Once you’ve read through the story and made your notes, start making changes. I know it’s a royal pain, but before you send it out to your beta readers, you want to give them something good to read.
Do not delude yourself and think what you wrote is fine as it is. No one writes a perfect first draft.
Do a line by line edit, check each sentence. Check your dialogue tags and action tags. Avoid info dump; reading several paragraphs of back-story will bore the reader. If background information is necessary, work it in via dialogue or minimal flashbacks of the character. Don’t get carried away. Cut the laundry lists of descriptions. We don’t need to know every piece of furniture in the room or what color the carpet or walls are. The reader wants you to get on with the action.
To help with your editing, I recommend a program called SmartEdit, which has a version that works in MS Word.
Here’s what it checks for:
Repeated Phrases List
Repeated Words List
Adverb Usage List
Monitored Words List
Dialog Tag Counter
Separate Dialog & Prose Checks
Misused Word List
Foreign Phrase Usage List
Profanity Usage List
Suspect Punctuation List
Proper Nouns List
Sentence Start List
Sentence Length Graph
Smart & Straight Quote Checker
Dash and Hyphen Checker
Word, Character & Page Count
The Adverbs use list is a great one to help find and remove them.
Once you’ve gone through your manuscript, send it off to your beta readers. While they are busy ripping, I mean reading your story, keep yourself busy by writing short fiction or outlining a new book. Don’t stop writing. Keep that creative muscle in shape.
May the words ever flow!