So you’ve finished the first draft of your first book. Awesome! That’s more than a lot of people have been able to do. There are millions of unfinished manuscripts rotting in dresser drawers and resting on hard drives. Now that your done it’s time for that next step. Which in my opinion you have three options. Take a break then read it yourself, get someone to read it, or start your second draft. Eventually you’ll do all three, but the order may change.
We’ll unpack these one at a time.
Take A Break Then Read It
At this point you want to separate yourself from your own work. Take some time off to either outline another book (I recommend a different book or series), or go out and do something. Take part in a hobby and enjoy life. Don’t take too long though. Maybe a month or so.
This is a method we use as artists to clear our mental palette. In my day job as an animator I often have to step away from my work. I go around to other desks and see what others are up to. And when I come back I’ll see everything with a fresh pair of eyes. Flaws that I didn’t catch before jump out and slap me. Plus the stuff that is good really stands out. Often times you’ll wonder if you really wrote it.
During this time you should be taking notes on what you’d like to change. This is when you mark scenes for deletion or decide what needs punched up. With your break I know you’ll easily see the flaws.
Big point here. Don’t get discouraged. Your first draft was just getting words on the page so you have something to work with. Think of it like modeling with clay — if you’ve never modeled with clay, stop reading and go do it then come back so this analogy makes sense to you (also it’s fun) — when you start your just worried with getting your major shapes down. The ovals, cubes, and cylinders. That’s your first draft. Taking a break and reading it is like stepping back from the clay and evaluating it. Are the proportions correct? Can you shave away any parts to shore it up?
After that you either get someone to read it our start the second draft. Which I recommend doing one before the other. So keep a look out for those posts coming in the next few days.
Here is another concept drawing of a character from my book: Winfield, who owns and runs Winfield’s Eclectic Books!