Whether you winged it or followed an outline, that manuscript will need some work. You’ll be facing edits, revisions, and possibly a complete overhaul. Don’t be overwhelmed! And don’t threaten to burn that manuscript. We have some tips on how to handle it without losing your sanity or taking hostages.
Here are some suggestions –
Let the manuscript sit for a few weeks. Get some distance.
Work from a hardcopy – it’s easier on the eyes and mistakes are more apparent. You can also make notes in the margins.
Read through the entire manuscript once. Familiarize yourself with the story as a whole.
During the first read through, note what needs more research, but don’t stop to research right at that moment. Get to the end first.
Write a short letter or note to yourself – what do you want to achieve with the next draft?
If you didn’t do one initially, make an outline. Write down what is happening in each chapter. Note where characters come and go.
One the next pass, either focus on one chapter at a time or one issue at a time.
Read dialogue out loud. Use the character’s voices and facial expressions. (Try not to do this in front of your family or they’ll have you committed!)
Is the story told from the right point of view?
Individual issues and items:
Punctuations and spelling
Sentence length and variation
Plot holes and inconsistencies
Description – too much or not enough
Character voice and consistency
Spots that drag or become boring
Consistency with people, descriptions, details, and storyline
Length of chapters
Proper amount of world building
Proper pacing and tension
Word count acceptable for genre
Repeated words and phrases
Use of active and forceful verbs
Timeline for events is accurate and believable
Unnecessary or overwhelming subplots
Show versus tell
Character actions and body movement
That may seem like a lot, but when you know specifically what you are looking for, it’s easier to spot and fix it.
And of course, once you have been through your manuscript many times, pass it off to a critique partner. (Or two or three…) Let them know where you need help or if something isn’t working. Trust me, they will find those rough spots! Just keep an open mind to suggestions.
I’m sure that list is just a drop in the bucket. If you have other tips or suggestions, please leave them in the comments.
Ready to revise? You can do it!!