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So, you’ve finally completed that first draft of your novel. Congratulations! It’s an accomplishment, no matter how long it took to get there. Now that you’ve finished, you may be asking, What’s next?
Is your heart thumping wildly in your chest as you force yourself to sit down, a proverbial red pen in hand, starting at word one, page one? Do you tweak with sentence structure or word choice? And how do you tackle thousands of words when you’re not sure if they all add up to a plot?
Here are five things to do before you even begin the editing process.
1) Let it sit. Let it be. Resist the urge to open that document and peruse it’s greatness, or it’s lameness and give your brain a much-needed break. This is a great time to conjure up your next story, maybe make notes and write character descriptions. Or, if you’re like me, and you have numerous books all in different states of creation, you tackle one of those.
2) While your story rests, invest into some good books on editing. And I’m not talking line-editing, but BIG picture editing. Books like A Story is a Promise by Bill Johnson, and Writing the Heart of Your Story by C.S. Lakin. Read them. Study them. Soak in them in and learn how to look at your writing from the MACRO to the MICRO.
3) Read. Read novels in your genre. Find ones similar to what you write and study the pacing, the voice, the phrasing each author uses. Did you draft your book in third person, past tense and maybe you fall in love with first person, present tense? Maybe it would be great to change things up? You can make this big picture decision before you even edit a word.
4) Read. Read novels way outside your genre. Test yourself- how much diversity can you take? You may be surprised how much inspiration you’ll discover by thinking outside the box. And who knows, it may inspire your next best-seller!
5) Now that time has passed–at least a few weeks, if not a month, print your book. Use all that hard-gained knowledge from those how-to books, note changes directly on the page. We read the printed word differently than ones that appear on the screen. It’s amazing how many mistakes I’ve discovered when reading my novel on a printed page!
I hope these suggestions help. Got some great ideas that work for you? Care to share? We’re all in this together…