This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Don't forget to celebrate, too. You've written a book and that's a huge achievement. It's time to reconnect with your life outside of your computer screen. Pay special attention to friends and loved ones who may have been neglected while you bashed out your draft, have a glass of wine (or four), watch a film. Maybe even (gasp) go outside.
Next, it's time to print it out and send it to every agent in the phone book. Ha. That was, of course, a hilarious joke.
It's actually time to enter the editing process. This, like all aspects of novel-writing, varies from person to person, but it can be broadly split into the following stages:
– Structural editing
– Close editing
– Final pass
To clarify, I count the editing process as beginning once you have a workable draft. For some (lucky) people that may be draft one. For me, it's draft two or three. For others, it may be draft seven. We all do different amounts of rewriting as we go along, varying amounts of planning, and have different ideas of what constitutes a draft.
Personally, I consider a 'workable' draft as something that is readable enough for you to give to somebody else (such as a critique partner or friend) for their opinion.
So. The first stage is allowing your manuscript to rest. This is so that you'll be able to read it with a new perspective, better able to see the flaws and inconsistencies. If you begin editing too soon after completing the draft, the chances are you will read what you intended to communicate (as the story and characters are still alive in your mind) and not what you actually put on the paper.
In the brilliant On Writing, Stephen King suggests leaving your book in a drawer for as long as you are able, but at least six weeks. I know people who have settled on one month as the magic 'resting' period, while others get itchy typing fingers after a week.
In general, the longer you leave your book, the more able you will be able to see it with fresh eyes. I know that when I've re-visited abandoned drafts from a year or more ago, it's like reading something that somebody else wrote.
If you have a tight deadline and are unable to leave your book for very long, I'd recommend throwing yourself into a new project to reset your mind as much as possible.
Next on the list is structural editing and I'll discuss that in part two. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section and I'll do my best to tackle them!