Editing a rough draft
(Fouke, AR, USA)
Question: I just recently finished the first book in my series. It is over 120,000 words and I have begun re-reading to find sub plot holes, grammar and spelling errors. How else can I polish up the rough draft to appeal to publishers better?
I have read the "getting published" section but am looking for more editing help. I also have 4 friends and family reading it as well to give me feedback. Thank you.Answers:
Here are a few suggestions...
1. Set your manuscript aside for a week or more so you can look at it with fresh eyes.
2. As well as filling in plot holes, look for scenes that can be cut because they are not stepping stones in any plot or character arc, nor are they essential thematic illustrations. You manuscript sounds a bit long for a typical first novel (unless perhaps it's fantasy).
3. Check for continuity. Have you accidentally contradicted yourself anywhere? Have you broken the established rules or geography of your story world? Are your characters consistent? Do all your plot events make sense?
4. Go over every sentence, looking for opportunities to make each one better. Can you change any passive verbs to active verbs? Can you eliminate unnecessary adverbs or negatives? Do you "show vs. tell" enough? Does your description address all the senses? Does anything seem awkward or unclear?
5. When getting feedback from others, bear in mind that you can trust their emotional reactions more than their advice. The more emotionally engaged they become while reading, the better. Parts where they got bored or their attention waned may need work. People are also better at telling you what they don't like than knowing how to fix it. Figuring out how to fix it is your job.
Finally, I recommend you get a copy of "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" by Renni Browne and Dave King and work through it one chapter at a time. It's a great book on editing your manuscript for style and has far more valuable recommendations than I could possibly list on this page.
Best of luck.