Cindy K. Green
I let the manuscript sit for a bit, usually sending it out to my critique partner while I work on something else. When I get it back, I will work on her ideas/corrections. Then I sit and read the whole of it, in one sitting. At this point, I am making sure the flow of words is correct, punctuation is right, plot holes are taken care of, characters are in character. I also might add more layering – more characterization, more intricate plot, etc, etc. After going over it many, many, many times, I send it back to the cp before I submit.
Let it rest. Take a break – read some novels (not just romance), indulge your own reading habits, the more diverse the better. Create some space that lets you go back to the novel afresh with a more critical eye for that first polish and edit round. Then send it out to your critique partner – it’s amazing how improvements/omissions occur once you’ve sent it somewhere.
Writing THE END on your first draft is only the beginning, as we all know! I think it is important to let your project “percolate” for a few days or a week before you do anything. That time away gives you a better perspective. Once you’ve let it sit, then it’s time to polish. On the first read I try to look for words and phrases I know I overuse. For me, one problem is the word “that.” I also try to change any commonplace verbs to those with more power. Stronger verbs carry stronger emotions, and that is what romance is all about!
I like to let my first draft percolate for awhile so when I look at it again, I can see it fresh. If I read it too soon, I find I read right through my mistakes.
The most important tip I can give is one I’ve learned the hard way. It’s imperative to read your book cover to cover in one sitting when you are done. Why? Because often motions or little saying can be repeated several times in your manuscript without you even realizing it.
The best thing you can do with any first draft, is throw it in a drawer. Not forever. Just for a week or two. Enough time for you to forget a lot of it.
After two weeks, take it out, and have a pencil. Read it. Every page you have the urge to correct or add to, do it! Then put that particular page aside.
When you’re done, take those pages and use them to edit the file on your computer.
Rinse and repeat.
The first thing I do is print it out and set aside for at least two weeks (sometimes longer). Once the two weeks are up, I sit down with the hard copy and read it completely through from the view of a reader and look for the following: plotholes, inconsistencies, scenes that don't add to the book, etc. As I re-write and tighten, I also look for excess words - that, was, had, and -ing words. The last thing I do is a "find and replace" for those words.
After all of that, I print it out again and let it sit again for a while - maybe only one week, then I read it again. If I'm satisfied with the product, it's sent out. If not, I do the above over again.
I usually set it aside for a couple of weeks, clear my mind so to speak, then open it up again and read it as though it were someone else’s novel. It’s odd but, by doing that, I can immediately see the weaknesses, where it needs more depth or explanation.
After that I normally send it out to my critique partner, to get her feel for it. Once I get the feedback from her, I start the revising and polishing process.
Put it away for a few days – a week if you can bear to be separated from it for so long – and resist the urge to add, subtract or do anything at all to it in that time. Do other things such as clean up the study.
When the time is up, find yourself a quiet spot and read your novel as if it’s a book written by someone else. Keep a pen handy and make a note of things such as slow sections, inconsistencies in time, place or character, repetitions, and areas of long exposition that could be replaced by direct action or dialogue. Then start rewriting those parts that are obviously in need of work. You’ll be surprised at how much your novel improves and tightens up immediately.
Once the first draft is done... I yell Whoo-hoo! And then of course, it's time to edit. Usually I try to let it sit for a while, to try to get some distance from my story and my characters. This is the tricky part, because now once it's done all I want to do is polish it and make it better, you know, changing dialogue... making sure someone isn't sitting in a car while speaking to suddenly be inside the house without ever having actually gotten out of the car, or walked up to the house.