Get excited! I have a crazy amazing book recommendation today! Ready?
That sounded super sweet, didn’t it? It was. It’s your baby. It should be a pleasure to pore through her pages again, but it’s also a vital step (or rather, steps) to perfecting your project.
I’m talking to all you eager little bunnies out there hovering over the SEND button with queries or requests for pages from agents at conferences. Gah. I know. I’m so there right now. It’s some serious suckage dudes, but do it. For realsies.
I’ve noticed a trend going on between writers I’ve spoken to recently, about when they feel they’re ready to submit, and a lot of people seem so lost in the excitement or nerves or the process that they forget about one very important step:
READ YOUR NOVEL.
All of it. Beginning to end.
Obviously this is a good practice anyway, and most people do in fact do this, but here’s the kicker. You need to do it more than once. How often is up to you, but my ever-opinionated butt has some thoughts on that, and I’m feeling generous today, so I’m sharing.
THE FIRST DRAFT:
This should be your first big read-through and also where you’ll catch the biggest issues in your novel for editing. Don’t try to fix them all now, just take notes, sit on them for a few days, and come up with a plan for the best way to tackle them.
EXTENDED PERIODS AWAY:
Life happens sometimes, or some people work on more than one project at once (I think you’re amazing, btw), or sometimes you’re just taking one of those mind-clearing breaks, but when you’ve been away from your world, it’s easy to forget all the details you put into it. Make notes for changes if you want, but this will get you back in the story with your characters and re-familiarize yourself with the plot.
Every time you heavily re-work your piece. Here, I think, the most noticeable changes will deal with characters and plot lines, and just because you’re fixing things doesn’t mean they aren’t going to get all wonky again. The best way to catch any inconsistencies or problem spots are by reading that puppy all the way through. If you’re happy with the overall story line and character growth during this read, move on to your line edits.
AFTER YOUR FINAL LINE EDITS:
Ohmygosh, you just got done with line edits! That means you’re that much closer! Yay you! Now go read your book again, even if you’re absolutely, positively, 100% for sure you caught all the awkward spots and trimmed all the fat. In its simplest form, this is where you’ll catch any last typos you made with all that cutting, pasting, and rewording, but also gives you one last opportunity to check the work as a whole. Tone, voice, the way you present the words on the page—or the word choices themselves—can all drastically change when you’re shuffling things around, and without that final read-through, you can’t know if there’s anything that still needs fixing.
This is (hopefully) the one time in your writing career that you don’t have a deadline. Take advantage of that, and make sure you really are presenting your best possible work.
Have fun reading, y’all! I’d love to hear your thoughts below!