Last week I talked about the WIP--Work in Progress. But what do you do when you've finally finished sweating over the keyboard and pounding out that rough draft of your book?Why simple.
You rewrite it!
I can hear you all screaming now--WHAT?
It's true...and I'll let you in on a little secret--you have to rewrite it more than once.
No one writes a perfect book in the first draft. Okay, maybe someone out there can, but it's not me. What you're left with in the rough draft is hopefully the bones of a really great story.
All while I'm writing the rough draft I'm making notes on things I need to add or change or think about. I don't go back and fix them while I'm writing. You can drive yourself crazy doing that. And what if you go back and spend days changing something only to realize when you're finished that it no longer suits the vision of the book. All that work for nothing, and then there is the fact that it took you a lot longer to finish your rough draft.
By the time the rough draft is finished you'll have a better of who your character are--because at least one of them will probably surprise you--and you'll have the bare bones of your story, your conflict and your resolution.
Now is the time to go back and begin to rewrite with those factors in mind. It's time to work the magic!
I love to rewrite because it is now that you can add depth to the scenes. Ususally when I'm doing the rough draft, I want to get it all down before I forget what I want to say. *g* Sometimes, the details suffer. But I don't worry about it because I know I can fix it on the rewrite. This is where you stop, look and listen, adding details that will allow you to expand the world you are creating and make it more real.
This is also when you check for consistencies in the book--pesky little details that the reader will catch if you don't. Things like the placement of furniture, eye color, clothing details, etc... Do you need to add something earlier to make a later scene make sense? Example: I mentioned a collection of antique swords hanging over the fireplace in a room so when a character grabs one later in the book the reader won't ask, "Where the heck did that come from?"
As an author, I know my problem is sometimes not putting down on the page everything that's in my head. I know the swords are there, but if I don't write it down the reader won't know.
Grammer comes into play now. Word choice as well. I have a habit of using a particular word three or four times in the same paragraph. This is the time to rewrite, change the sentence structure and the wording.
When I'm done and finally have the manuscript as good as I can make it, I hand it off to my reader. When it comes back, it's full of red marks and questions. What about this? What about that?
Then it's back to the computer, taking into consideration all the questions and suggestions my reader has. Your reader has to be someone you trust, someone whose only goal is to make the book stronger and better.
Working through the manuscript, page by page, I fix things, checking every detail. When I'm finished and finally satisfied, then I'll send it off to my editor. Some books require another go round with my reader, sometimes two. Each book is different.
And if I'm fortunate enough for my editor to love the book enough to contract it, I know it's going to come back again with another load of edits to be done, sometimes several rounds, as well as final line edits.
So writing the first draft is only the beginning.
But it's worth the hard work when the book is finally released and it's the best that I can make it!