THE FIRST DRAFT
- This should be self-explanatory. You write the first draft. For novels, 75-150,000+ words of the world inside your head.
PLOT, CONTENT, SCENES, AND MAJOR CHARACTERS
- Go back and fix it all up. Did you tell the story you wanted to tell? Did you include scenes and events that add up to the conclusion you present?
- Are there any unnecessary scenes you could delete, or scenes that are redundant to other scenes? Get rid of them. If this means entire chapters have to go, wave bye-bye.
- Do your main characters have believable back stories and arcs, and do they act appropriately in character at all times?
- Is there any point in time when your characters do something that they literally WOULD NOT DO? Change that up.
WORLD-BUILDING, CHARACTERIZATION, HONING IN PLOT POINTS
- Now pay attention to the deeper aspects of the story. Delve into the world your characters live in. Do they react appropriately? Does any part of society influence them more than others?
- What does your world look like? Delve into the setting. The cultures, the technology, the history.
- Work with your secondary characters and how they interact with your main characters. What role do they serve overall? Does the main character’s journey affect them at all, or vice versa?
- Tighten up plot points. Stay concise if possible.
SENTENCE STRUCTURE, FLOW AND PACING OF SCENES
- Now that the major parts of your story have been patted down, you can begin focusing on the technical stuff. Start broad.
- Do you have redundant sentences? Do you start multiple sentences the same way?
- Throw in short sentences.
- Drop the pronoun from the beginning of a sentence every now and then.
- Use commas instead of ‘and’ if you find you use ‘and’ a lot.
- Does the flow of sentences and paragraphs fit with the tone of the scene?
- Chop sentences apart. Use quick, sharp words.
- Or combine sentences and flowery language and soft words.
BETA READER CRITIQUES AND SUGGESTIONS
- Now that you’ve really patted this thing down, find people willing to read your work (hopefully for free).
- Ask them to point out inconsistencies. Are they confused by anything?
- Beta readers can tell you when things are boring or exciting. They’ll laugh. They’ll fangirl. They’ll beg you for more chapters.
- Your brain is soft from so much revising. Beta readers are fresh, and will pick out things you’ve glossed over from seeing it so many times.
- Shake things up and host a video chat for you and your betas! It’s a great way to make friends
PUNCTUATION AND MISSING WORDS
- NOWWWWW you’ve finished all the major revisions and your story makes sense!!! All that’s left to do is get the broom and sweep it up (or the vacuum cleaner, or generate a black hole from the Large Hadron Collider to suck out all the errors because that’s super-effective**).
- This is the nitty gritty stuff, and I highly recommend either forcing yourself to read really, really slow, or better yet, read your book out loud, start to finish.
- You’ll trip up over misplaced commas and periods.
- You’ll literally hear when a sentence is awkward.
- Your brain will get confused when there’s a missing word.
- Fill in the gaps, hammer down the boards, clean up the place.
THE FINAL DRAFT
- OMG IT’S FINISHED AND YOU CAN SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD AND BUY PHYSICAL COPIES THAT YOU CAN HOLD AND SMELL AND RUB ALL OVER YOUR FACE AND DRAW IN AND DOG-EAR AND TOTE AROUND TO SHOW PEOPLE AND SIGN AUTOGRAPHS AND BECOME YOUR OWN LITTLE CELEBRITY!!!
- Email the newspaper (I’ve appeared multiple times).
- Email the local TV station (I’ve appeared on live TV).
- Email book talk radio shows (I’ve had a Q&A for an hour on live radio).
- ……..Marketing is hard.
N.B. **please do not ask CERN for permission to use the Large Hadron Collider to create black holes that suck out all the errors in your book. You’ll look silly, and you might destroy Earth in the process.