After completing the first draft of your story, the next big step is:
Letting the manuscript rest is HUGE, at least to me. And it’s hard to do! Leave it alone? We writer types are constant tinkerers.
After doing so many critiques, I know to let my MS rest a while – and it’s like somebody else wrote it after I do. I can see almost all the fixes and do them. I can be objective. I CAN FORGET THAT I KNEW WHAT I MEANT BY WHAT I WROTE AND INSTEAD SEE WHAT’S ACTUALLY WRITTEN – and whether it makes sense to somebody who’s reading it and does not already know all the stuff going on in my head.
It’s a lot of work and it’s not a perfect system but it works for me.
I hear you. You’re going “Hmm…”
Allow me to explain.
With “Angel” I knew I needed to learn more about writing and adding emotion, etc., so I let it sit for over a year while I wrote other things. During that year, I improved a LOT as a writer so when I revisited Angel I could see all sorts of problems. Nothing life threatening, but the kind of stuff that takes it from a good story idea with a few good scenes and some interesting characters to a well told, amazing ride that readers won’t forget.
Taking a month to do its second draft allowed me to spend the time necessary to get it closer to where it needed to be. It really was like reading somebody else’s book; I’d forgotten some stuff I put in there but more importantly I ADDED the stuff I knew needed to go in: it was too tell-y; it became more show-y. More emotional. Consistent tense. No head hopping POV. Now I will let Allison review it, make the changes she suggests, and send it to beta readers, and see what suggestions they have.
8 Steps You NEED To Take
- Read again and revise
- Send to editor/trusted CP (Know what you do while they have it? Rest.)
- Send to betas (Know what you do while they have it? REST!)
*That first “write” may contain several rewrites of selected sections as I go along. You know how we writer types are.
**This is the step too many people skip, myself included. This takes place after the first draft is completed, and your first draft should get completed in 3-4 months. Because it’s a first draft, not a completed manuscript. Give your self time to grow in the story.
How long do you let it rest?
As long as you can, but not less than a day for a chapter you want to review, a month for a completed first draft of the MS – although three months is better, possibly ideal. A year is probably too long.
Probably. Maybe not.
The three critical things you skip that ruin your story are the three times you should rest – but you don’t. Rookies keep tinkering. Stop. You wrote a good story. Go away for a while and enter weekly writing challenges or flesh out some ideas that you put on hold.
Set a date to return to your MS and then DO NOT LOOK AT IT until that date. That little bit of discipline will save you countless frustrating hours.
When we are writing, we know exactly what we mean as we put the words down. After a rest period, our engagement with the scene fades and we view it more like a first time reader – and we will see whether it was as awesome as we first thought.
- Resting will help adjust the point of a scene and whether it needs to be included at all.
- Resting will help you see the intensity of a scene the way a reader would, and
- You WILL NOT see typos or poorly worded phrases, or at least not as many of them, until you let the MS rest. You’re simply too familiar with the wording and your manner of speaking. You won’t see where you typed it wrong.
If you had asked me if I’d ever revise a story so many times, I’d say NO, but really it’s minor tweaks happening IF I can let it rest a proper amount of time first!
So I do all the hard work there, after the “rest” phase, and everyone else benefits (I hope).
WORK ON OTHER STUFF WHILE YOU LET THE MS REST.
Write your next amazing story. You have more than one in you, trust me.
Most of you can’t let your MS rest long enough to become objective about it, and most of the rest of you probably revise it forever. There’s a rule for that, too: at some point the changes don’t make it better, they just make it different. Don’t forget to eventually get to step 8.
Take a deep breath and press send. Publish that sucker.
For an author, to be unread is to not exist.
Just be sure to rest a while first.
How long do YOU let your manuscript rest? BE HONEST!!
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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the amazingly great sci fi action thriller “The Navigators.” Click HERE to get your copy of The Navigators – $2.99 or FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
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