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The First Draft!

Writing Tips for Writers #2

Navigating the post-draft process can be difficult. You've spent all this time writing and suddenly - you don't have to write anymore.

So now what?

Here are six steps to kick off your editing process!

Step One: Outline your goals

Outline your goals for your book! The amount of work you put in largely depends on what you want for your novel.

Are you planning on publishing? Pursuing traditional publishing or self publishing? Are you only sharing it with a few friends? Or keeping it for yourself and simply want to polish it up?

Not every book is written for the purpose of publication, and that's okay! But assuming that is your goal, here's what I do to start the post-draft process.

Step Two: Plan the Revisions

Plan, plan plan. At this point, you've probably heard this a lot. Ironically for me, I don't plan my books from start to finish (and if you know me, you know this), and my revision process is similar. I have an idea of where I want the book to go, and what I need to do to get there. But I plan out my first steps of action by doing a read through.

This is your macro stage - and so the first thing I do is a full read through. My goal here is to make note of the overall writing and plot. Are there plot holes? Character descriptions that don't match? Things that should carry through but don't? Places where the writing could be shorter, more detailed, smoother, etc.

But I only take note of these changes. I don't let myself make any actual edits until I've gone through the entire book and left myself comments. This way, I won't screw up something by accident trying to fix it only to find out I didn't need to later. I also don't let myself make any technical edits, because at this point I'm going to be doing a lot of rewrites anyways, so there's not really a point. It also distracts from the overall focus on the bigger picture.

A successful book runs smoothly from start to finish, and this is crucial to creating a strong foundation for your book!

Step Three: Outlining

Outline EVERYTHING. The plot arch, characters (including their roles, descriptions, and how they relate to one another), and setting. It can be easy to leave out small, important details or drop things throughout the book unintentionally. These details might not seem important, but carrying them through the book will create a more realistic world for your reader.

You are world building! Creating a life and a story. It is vital that everything fits together. This is not the place to get careless with details (sorry!)

Step Four: The Editing Process

The editing process. The dreaded part of fixing your first draft.

So this is post revisions and rewriting. You don't want to do a lot of in-depth editing until you're completely happy with the overall book. I'd suggest doing multiple read throughs and a few rounds of rewrites, as many as it takes to get your work the best it can be. Once you've fixed the plot, details, etc., you can move on to the actual editing.

You'll likely have to go through several rounds of editing (as much as it sucks, it's the unfortunate reality). For the first few rounds, you're likely not going to need a professional editor. You're still in the beginning stages of polishing your book. Unless you feel like all the heavy lifting is done, you might want to hold off.

Once you've taken your book as far as you can by yourself, then it's time to think about hiring an editor.

*A note about hiring editors: Professional editors can be expensive. I am a freelance editor on Upwork, and you can usually find decent editors for pretty good prices if you can't shelve out a thousand dollars for a professional editor. The quality won't be exactly the same, but it will still be a good investment and an extra, unbiased set of eyes to read through your manuscript.

Step Five: Readers

Find friends or beta readers who can read through your book and offer their own ideas. Plot holes, critiques, etc. Listen to everything.

It can be hard to hear criticism, especially on something you've poured your heart into, but this is going to make your work that much better.

You don't have to take every critique as a change you have to make, but it is important and valuable to consider them carefully. Remember, no one is trying to tell you that your work is bad! They're trying to help you reach your full potential because they know you're capable of it!

Step Six: Reassess

Reassess where your book stands now in relationship to your goals. Have you met them? Are you happy with it? Are you ready for final edits and revisions, or do you need some more rewrites?

Congratulations! You're officially past the first draft stage. Whether or not you're moving on to the final draft or a second draft, you're headed in the right direction!

Good luck!!

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