Okay, it is finished. This is November 30th and by midnight you should have 50-thousand words on a new book. Did you finish writing it? Are there still some holes you've left that you need to go back and fill in? What do you do now?
Well, other than drinking a well deserved cup of coffee or champagne to celebrate, take a deep breath, give yourself a big pat on the back, and then... well then it's time to get back to work and look at what you will do with all those words. Don't let them go to waste! Look for ways to finish that story and get it edited for publication.
Where do you start? Here are some ideas.
1. Give yourself a day off. Writing 50,000 words can take some doing, so give your brain a day of rest. (I drink champagne instead of coffee)
2. Begin editing with passages you know need fixing. Sometimes there are parts you know you shortchanged. I find that if I go back and work on those areas immediately it makes the entire editing process easier.
3. Edit in small chunks. Don't think you can make one quick pass through and be finished. I find that the editing process can take up to five passes. 1) to catch those obvious errors, 2) to check for those weasel words that I use too often -- like just, nearly, almost; 3) to look for ways to strengthen your writing -- check for places you can use stronger verbs instead of adverbs, 4) read for the story and whether or not it makes sense; 5) read for pacing -- check to see that the story not only moves along, but that you have some quick places that really move the story forward, and other places where the reader can take a breath before going on.
4. Edit your beginning in depth. that means looking to make certain you started the story in the right place. Does it start too slowly or so quickly we never have a chance to learn to like the characters?
5. Edit your ending right after that. Make certain that it completes the promise and the premise that you began with. Editing them back to back can make certain that they work together.
Then you're ready to go back and begin the serious chore of editing the book in depth, step by step, chapter by chapter.
Read it aloud one last time and you should find that it is just about ready to go. This is a simple list and there is much more that needs to be done in your editing. We'll look at some of those basics in future weeks.
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