Now if you have been following my steps you will have completed step 1. That means you have printed and marked up your entire manuscript using an old fashioned pen (not touched the computer yet) and your next step is to (finally) get back on your computer and start to fix all the errors.
It is in the editing phase that you are going to slow down, see what you have, take stock and make it better. You are working now to your second draft. It is a BIG DEPARTURE from your first draft.
You will intensify the conflict, tighten dialogue (or add it in), cut random characters or scenes, insert some scenes, clear up timelines, and fix glaring errors. The aim is to make it better, tighter, more compelling, more focussed and more publishable.
Some things to note:
·You need to start with the big stuff. If you can see a huge plot hole start with that. You may find you lack a strong subplot, or the novel just doesn’t make sense. No point fixing your character’s physical descriptions or small inconsistencies when the whole story is not making any sense.
You need to be ruthless. The most common comment by publishers is that writers ‘overwrite’. Clean it up. Pare it down. Cut out any duplicates. Cut any unnecessary descriptions. Cut anything that does not push your story forward. Cut out characters that leave you wondering – what’s the point of him again? Write in plain, clean, English. If in doubt, leave it out.
Work steadily and systematically: You are working through your notes with an editor's eye. Be consistent and steadily build a better book.
You need to finish up. You can spend the next 10 years changing and improving your book. It may always be a dud. It may be a masterpiece. There are only so many rewrites you can do and we need to move forward to a point where you are sending it out to publishers.
Make a reminder list. These are things you have noticed about your writing in general. It can be what it needs, what it is lacking, or what you feel you want to work on. You can stick them as post-it notes at your writing desk but make sure you can see it the entire time as you work on your rewrite.
It can look something like this
EMOTION EMOTION EMOTION!
WHAT’S THE CLIFFHANGER?
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
Keep asking yourself at every point.
Is the reader still engaged at this point?
Have I lost them?
Is this driving my story forward?
Is this scene / memory / chapter interesting to the reader, or just to me?
Am I off track?
Does this scene leave them wanting to turn the page and find out more?
What key question MUST be answered at the end of the book - and how is that making the reader want to get there?