Taking your manuscript to that next level is often a longer road than writing the story. One day it looks perfect and the next it seems to need a major overhaul. I’ve used many strategies to tidy up the mess I’ve created. Here are the best:
- Read the chapters in random order. I read the first and last chapter, and then bounce around until I’ve read every chapter. I do this to allow each chapter to be read as a story in itself. It’s easier to see plot holes when you aren’t looking forward or backwards.
- The Was-Am problem. Do a find for each of these words and watch them light up the screen. These words are indicators in my writing when I am telling the story instead of showing. “There was a large storm coming” becomes, “Dark clouds rolled off the mountaintops and flashes of lightning danced across the sky.” “I am worried” becomes, “Yikes, her science project has flashing lights and handouts and all I’ve got is corn starch.”
- Read the story out loud or have NaturalReader free do it for you. Guaranteed, you will find rough, unrealistic patches of dialog and typos just waiting to be fixed.
- Hire a freelance editor. Depending on your genre, there are dependable ones out there that won’t set your budget into a downward spiral. They can do developmental edits to find plot problems and line edits to catch every comma, tense choice, and other grammatical problems with one sweep through.
- Let her sit. Easier said than done. I could never let my first manuscript sit longer than 24 minutes before I was picking away at it again. The solution for me was to keep writing – Start another novel, or write a short story that could be submitted to a magazine. I sent an 800-word piece to Highlights Magazine and had fun writing in this different format. It also helped me keep that much larger novel hidden away.
- Last, but not least. Keep reading. My stories are first person so I scoured the libraries and bookstores to find others writing in the same tense. I’ve read two dozen of them so far, and my writing is better for it.
Good luck and keep moving forward!