Completing the first draft of your novel is a triumphant and wonderful moment for any writer – but it’s not the last step in the writing process by any means. Once you’re done with the first draft, it’s time to take another look at you story from the first word and work at it until it’s ready for the next draft.
For many writers, the process seems almost more intimidating than any of the work they initially did to write the book.
Here are some easier ways to carry your novel from the first draft to the next.
Step One is Step Back
The first step for any writer after completing a first draft should be to step back from the story. Take a break. Wait a few days, weeks or months before you revisit your manuscript for rewriting or editing. Doing this helps your brain to “reset” and when you get back to looking at your novel again, you can do it with a fresh perspective – and you might even have some new ideas that work better than they did the first time.
Hire a Beta Reader First
Are you blind-sided by the errors and plot lines in your own work? Many writers are – and you shouldn’t be too worried about it if you have trouble spotting your own errors as a writer. If this describes you, hire a reliable beta reader to work together with you when you edit your story. Good and reliable beta readers that you can count on are always fast to tell you where something could be said better or where you’ve left a big open hole somewhere in your plot.
Read it Through – Twice
Put your editing hat away for a while and read through your book the same way that a reader would. This means that you should settle down, relax and read the manuscript as if you had just taken it home from the bookstore (or ordered it from Amazon). Forget for a few hours that you were the person that wrote this story and think about it from a different perspective.
Read through your book as though it wasn’t written by you at all. What do you think about the book a few days or weeks later now that you get to read it again?
This allows you to spot things in your story that could have worked better – and it gives you a crucial perspective that you can use when editing your story.
Edit By Chapter
Editing an entire book seems pretty intimidating, especially to writers who have never taken on the process before. This is why it’s much easier to do your edits by chapter. You can keep track of changes in chapter so-and-so easier than you can when worrying about the entire book while you do it.
Make notes on your changes on a separate page while working on the second draft – and always keep an unedited first version of draft one somewhere so that you’re able to compare the two side-by-side when you’re done.
Run Some Online Tools
There are many free online tools out there that are designed to make you a better writer. Always keep these tools bookmarked – and refer to them whenever working on your manuscript. Useful checkers include thesauruses, dictionaries, synonym-finders and name generators – spellcheckers like Grammarly can also be extremely useful for any writer or editor.
Once you’re done with your first draft, run some of these online tools on your manuscript to double-check it for things like repetition, grammar errors or spelling mistakes. That’s half the battle of manuscript editing done right there, and you didn’t even have to break a sweat to do it! For more information on how to write a novel, check out Reedsy’s post.