I’m Done My Manuscript…Now What?
By Erin E. M. Hatton
You did it! You finally typed “the end”! Maybe you’re just wrapping up Nanowrimo and you’re basking in that sense of accomplishment.
But the fact is that you still have a long road ahead of you before your new book hits the shelves. You might be looking at that lovely piece of raw story and wondering: “Now what?”
Here are a few tips to get you started on that long and arduous process of editing and revising.
1. Let it breathe.
It’s a good idea to get some mental space before tackling revisions. When you’re fresh from a writing frenzy like Nanowrimo you can be mentally exhausted and, what’s more, you can be too close to the manuscript to see mistakes clearly. Take some time to read and/or write something else for a bit before you come back, and you’ll have fresher eyes.
2. Read it aloud.
Our tongues trip over things our eyes might not catch. Reading your writing aloud not only helps highlight mistakes, but it also shows where words are flowing nicely and where they don’t quite sing.
3. Give it to a friend.
There is no fresher set of eyes than someone else’s eyes. Other people catch things we miss, and have some emotional distance from the story, so they may be able to point out errors that hide in our blindspots. You can probably think of someone you can trust to do this for you. Perhaps a writing group or a partner. For me, it’s my mom. Or maybe you need to hire an editing service. Think of it as an investment into your future book.
You’re not going to want to do a detailed grammatical edit on a chunk of text that you’re going to slash and burn anyway. Make sure you start with the big stuff—major revisions, plot changes, deleting and rewriting large segments—before you go on to the little technical things so you don’t end up wasting time.
5. Recognize when to stop.
There comes a point in every manuscript’s life when it is ready to go to the publisher. As an author, we need to learn to identify that moment, when all the little tweaking needs to stop and we have to let go. This is another thing that a trusted, knowledgeable friend can help with.
The first draft is just the beginning. But the editing process doesn’t have to be painful.
About this Contributor:
Erin E.M. Hatton is the author of Otherworld and Across the Deep, winner of the 2014 Free Publishing Contest for Fiction. She has also authored several short stories and novellas. She graduated from Redeemer University College and lives in Barrie, Ontario with her husband Kevin and four children.
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