New authors often underestimate the importance of revising your novel before publishing. As Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” While the first draft of your novel is definitely not crap, it’s likely a long way from being as powerful and compelling and polished as it could be.
Try not to think about it during that time. Focus on other things and just let it percolate in the back of your mind. Maybe have beta readers (savvy volunteer readers who don’t need to be writers) go through it and comment on what excited them, bored them, or confused them.
- Ditto with other important characters. Go for contrast among the main characters.
- POV: Are you staying firmly in the point of view of the viewpoint character for each scene? Or are you hovering above or head-hopping? See my posts on point of view:
~ POV 101: Get into Your Protagonist’s Head and Stay There (for most of the novel)
~ POV 102 – How to Avoid Head-Hopping
~ POV 103 – Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View
- Length: If your story is over 90,000 words, look for ways you can tighten it. Maybe your writing style is rambling and overly wordy, or you have too many characters or too many sub-plots. Or too much time spent on transitions and quiet scenes where not much happens. Spark up or delete any parts that seem boring or repetitive. For concrete tips on tightening up your story without losing any of the good stuff, see my post, How to Slash Your Word Count by 20-40%.
If your writing style is sparse, show important scenes through action, reactions, dialogue, and thoughts, instead of summarizing or telling, and add sensory details, visual clues, and character reactions.
See my book, Fire up Your Fiction, for concrete tips, with examples, on revising and polishing your fiction or nonfiction writing.
- Amp up your word choices. Use strong, specific verbs and nouns that bring the scenes and characters to life.
- Read it through out loud. Underline or make note of any parts where you stumble or that sound unnatural or overly wordy - that don't have an easy flow.
Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction:Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage. You can find Jodie at www.JodieRenner.com, www.JodieRennerEditing.com, at The Kill Zone blog alternate Mondays, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe to Jodie's sporadic (3-6 times a year) newsletter HERE.