Yee-ha! Finished “HA-HA-HA-HA” . . . well, the first draft anyway. For me, this has been—wow—over a year in the making. Time to celebrate? Maybe. A little.
If you’ve finished your manuscript, congrats. Not an easy feat (not unless you’re a prolific writer who can put something together in a wink and a blink). So, what now? Have a celebratory glass of wine or cup of tea? Why not? Go for it. Give yourself a [well-deserved] pat on the back? For sure—you deserve it, so give yourself two. Take a breather? Most definitely!
“The End” truly isn’t the end, not when it’s only the first draft. After that, you have to begin on the revamping, the refining. You want your manuscript to be submission perfect, so make certain your “product” is good enough to send out to publishers, agents (if you’re planning on pursuing the traditional publishing route), acquisition editors, and the like.
I’ve undoubtedly touched upon the following in past, but a review is always worthwhile—for you and me.
Take the aforementioned breather—a few days isn’t enough, truly, so aim for a few weeks, even a month or, better yet, two. I know, this seems like a forever when you’re excited about your manuscript and want to get it out there. But you must step away to view/review your work with objectivity. You’ve been living with the story for some time and need fresh eyes to see what’s what (what works and what doesn’t): you can only do that when you’ve stepped away for a decent period of time.
Once that breather has breathed enough, pick up that manuscript and read it all the way through before proofing/editing. Get a feel for how it flows, what makes sense, what stands out (as in amiss or incorrect, or makes you scratch your head). Now that you’ve got an idea of what requires doing, fix the critical items first—scenes that don’t work, plot holes, character inconsistencies. Once you’ve got those smoothed over, begin the edit. Take your time.
Second edit done? Edit more—or refine, as the case may be. Once completed, get feedback/input. Receiving it from family and friends is okay (but how objective are they really going to be?). Aim for writing communities and groups and beta readers. See what others have to say but take their advice with a grain of salt; it may make [a lot of] sense, it may not. Give the feedback serious—and non-subjective thought—and apply as you deem fit.
If you don’t yet have a social-media/on-line presence, create one. You want people to know about your book and you, the writer. How about a blog? Promote your book—and yourself—there. Spark interest.
I digressed a bit, because social media and the like is a whole other kettle of fish (and I’ve posted about this before). Really, the whole point about “The End” is that there’s a beginning . . . which leads to it being final, faultless/flawless, and fabulous.
With that, I’m off to take a few breaths . . . hmm, just how many are there in a month?