After 12 drafts of my first manuscript I believe I now have a few ideas on what to do after writing “The End,” on a first draft. No matter how capable you are as a writer and proofreader, your first draft is just that-a draft.
Writers use several different ways to revise their writing: critique groups, beta readers, or scrutinizing each chapter with a lice comb. You can do that, ad nauseum, but I found that delving into your manuscript using a method such as Holly Lisle’s One Pass Manuscript revision process was the most helpful.
Yes it can be a difficult task, but isn’t what you want to say worth it? If it’s not, then perhaps you should rethink why you’re writing the novel, short story or memoir that you initially thought was a good idea.
Unfortunately, I did not realize the wisdom of using a revision process until after several months of long and laborious critique group sessions. Don’t get me wrong, the right critique group can be invaluable and I belong to an awesome group, but why waste their time, and yours, ‘critiquing’ a piece that isn’t ready.
Now that your first revision is done, it’s time to make like a gold miner and sift through the muck, dark water, and rocks. Run your sediment and dirt clods through the sluice by using these (or similar) writing tools:
1. Spell check- I use Grammarly to make any grammar corrections and list the use of passive phrases. This tool goes beyond the MS word auto check function. And it’s free.
AutoCrit identifies these types of problems and can identify sentence variations, cliches and readability. Copy and paste 1,000 words of your revised draft through this software tool and you’ll be amazed at what comes up.
- Have I introduced the main character in the first few lines?
- Did I introduce some sort of a conflict, either internal or external?
- Have I begun the story in the middle of something that’s happened or about to happen?
- Have I given the reader a sense of the setting? year, locale
- Is there a hint at the character’s need, desire, goal, fear, dream?
- Is the dialogue (if any) concise, at cross purposes, and give a sense of the characters personality?
- Do you consider my first line a “hook?” Does it give an image that grabs the reader, makes them go to the next line, the next paragraph, the next page?
Until then, put your butt in the chair and keep writing.