Welcome to AuthorHouse Author’s Digest and a new installment of writing tips. So you’ve finished that first draft… now what? Well, hopefully you’re planning on doing a little editing before you ship the manuscript off to your publisher, whether you’re self-publishing or going the traditional route.
Today, we’d like to talk about things to look at when you’re reviewing your first draft. There’s a lot of work involved and it isn’t always fun (okay, usually isn’t fun) but it’ll raise the quality of your book to the next level–or higher! So where do you begin?
First… just wait. From when you type “The End” in your first draft, take a break for a few weeks. Step away from the project and work on something else—you’ll be able to see the draft with fresh eyes.
Read your manuscript from cover to cover. Don’t read a little, edit a little, repeat. Read the entire book first, making notes about things that have to be changed (or at least double-checked) later.
Does your first line grab the reader’s attention? Does it make the reader want to read the first paragraph, page, and chapter? If it doesn’t, change it!
Check for continuity issues. Was your main character’s plane an F-16 in one chapter but an F-18 in the next? Did a car model, gun type, or job title change unintentionally? Make sure to be consistent.
Do your fact-checking. You weren’t sure of a city’s population, capital, or main thoroughfare when you wrote the first draft, so you just filled in a placeholder. Now’s the time to do the research and fill in the facts.
View dialogue in the context of the entire story. Do conversations make sense in light of what happened before and after?
Fill in the details. Similar to the fact-checking suggestion above. Sometimes you only provide a thumbnail sketch of a location, process, etc. because you don’t have the information at hand. Those details can add authenticity and realism to your story… don’t leave them out!
Eliminate repetitions. While you were “in the zone” writing your story, you might have unconsciously repeated things.
Did you over-explain anything? Perhaps in chapter three, you provided a detailed explanation of a company structure. In chapters six and seven, story events make the company structure clear—is the detailed explanation in chapter three still necessary?
How does your story flow? Is too much action crammed together, followed by lengthy periods of quiet? In a changing point-of-view story, does one character get too much narration time? Determine if chapters should be moved around, added, or deleted.