During my NaNoWriMo recovery over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been catching up on my blog reading. I’ve read a number of articles that offer suggestions on editing manuscripts. Depending on your preference, you can either proofread and make your corrections on-screen http://writingforward.com or you can print the work in progress out and make small changes on the manuscript but write more detailed edits in a spiral notebook http://hollylisle.com. There is also a page on the NaNoWriMo site called “I Wrote a Novel, Now What?” http://nanowrimo.org. One of the contributors to the site suggests that you use post-it notes and a purple pen to make notes all over the hard copy of you novel.
No matter what method you use, it is very evident that editing and re-writing is just as important, if not more so, than writing the first draft. Even if you think you are the next Sue Grafton or James Patterson, it is not a good idea to send your novel to agents and publishers without making sure it is exactly the way you want it.
1. Make sure all of your loose ends are tied up. Explain what happens to each person that is important your story before you come to the end of your novel.
2. Check for grammatically and spelling errors. Don’t completely rely on the spell and grammar check in your word processing program.
3. Don’t be repetitive. If you find yourself using the same word over and over again, pick up a thesaurus. Your prose will flow so much nicer.
4. Keep the reader’s attention. Make readers feel something for your characters, good or bad. Indifferent is not good.
5. Make every word count. Don’t just have your characters talking just to be talking. Everything that is said or done should advance the storyline.
6. Do another read-through. Once you have made all of the corrections you need, let the manuscript for two weeks to a month. If will almost as if you are reading the story for the first time. You’ll be able to make sure you improved your work in progress instead of making it worse than it was before.
7. Get friends or family involved. If you are not fortunate enough to have a best-selling writer in your midst, you are bound to have someone in your circle that loves to read the type of book that have written. Only solicit comments from those you feel will give you honest feedback.
Happy editing! It will be hard work but you’ll be very proud of yourself when it’s all over.