Without a heavy dose of manuscript editing, your book isn’t ready for prime time.
Congratulations! You are one of the thousands of writers from around the world who succeeded in the NaNoWriMo challenge.
Determined writers like you endured the arduous National Novel Writing Month in hopes of producing a story that has been begging to get out. As the month draws to close, you are now sitting back looking at 20, 30, maybe 50,000 words that make up your story.
Before getting down to the nitty gritty of preparing your book for publishing, here are a few pointers to make sure that your first draft gets the most out of manuscript editing.
Go ahead and do a spell check if you haven’t already.
It is amazing how many words you think you know how to spell that you missed in your 5th grade spelling test. While the spell check program won’t catch everything, it catches a good portion. That makes your read through much easier.
Let your novel rest
You’ve just poured your heart out writing a book. By taking part in NaNoWriMo, you committed yourself fully to this manuscript for the past month. Rereading it right away may not be truly possible just yet, due to your “writer’s goggles.”
It takes time to get a new set of eyes on the first draft of a novel, and the only way to get that new set of editing eyes is to take a step back and give your brain time to disconnect.
Print it out
When you’re finally ready to start making your changes, grab a bottle of water and a new printer cartridge. Go ahead and print the document out. All of it.
Read it out loud
That’s right. The printed version will allow you to “red pen” your own book, and when you read the words out loud, it engages a different part of your brain. This helps you hear what your readers are seeing for the first time, and we all know that first impressions matter when it comes to meeting your characters.
Find your “crutch” words
When you start saying the words out loud, you’ll suddenly find your “crutch” words. You know, the words that you say (or in this case, type) more than you ever knew you did. They act like “ums” or “you knows” or “likes” and they destroy a beautiful paragraph simply because you’ve already said “fabulous” or “‘suddenly” more times than you should have.
Check your verb tenses
You might also notice that you change tenses. You’ll go from talking about your characters as a third person onlooker to suddenly addressing the reader directly. This can be confusing, so it’s important to stay consistent the entire way through.
Realize that friendly help might not be helpful
It’s important to be realistic with what you can do alone. So share your writing for additional input. Having friends and family do a read through and give their feedback is great.
However, be realistic. They probably don’t have years of training as a professional editor. They likely won’t be able to get your title ready for print. And they will never be completely honest with their opinions.
There is significant merit in finding and hiring a professional editor. Not only will they provide you with honest feedback (do you think grandma is really going to tell you she hated a certain part of your book?), but they can also collaborate in making your novel the absolute best it can be.
That’s right. Check it all again after editing. It’s your baby so make sure you do your best to nurture and develop it. Prepare it to meet the world and make you proud.
Congratulations on your novel; you’ve done the hardest part!
The world is ready and waiting to read the beautiful story you’ve spun. Now let’s just polish it up with a good dose of manuscript editing and get it out there for the masses.
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Image via ShutterStock.com.
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