Let’s click back onto that draft!
Friend, it’s been waiting for you. You’ve been patiently passing the days letting the story simmer in the depths of your mind.
As you open the document, you shake a little, fingers trembling against the keys.
All the worries you’ve been trying to ignore are rushing towards you in full power.
Does the plot make sense? Do the characters seem real and inviting? Is the part I thought was heart-wrenching actually a snooze-fest? MOST OF ALL, is this any good?
Now, I’m not going to go in-depth about most of these questions because guess what, I’ve answered them! Check here to answer that tricky question am I a good writer? and come back!
Step 1: Re-Focus
Back yet? Alright, let’s continue. I pray that gives you some encouragement before we tackle editing. The truth is, guys, editing is hard so give grace not only to yourself but to your poor manuscript. Before editing, the worst trail to walk down is the imposter syndrome. It’s usually there, but hope is too! We can fight against it.
So first, I’m going to ask you to do something you’ll probably have to read twice.
Write all these questions down on paper.
Yes, even the weird ones!
When I started, I poured all of my worries onto a notebook page. These questions had been tormenting me. It ranged from good questions like: did I follow the story structure to ones that didn’t matter yet did I call a side character Mercy in the beginning and then Mihira at the end?
It can be a big inconsistency or a little one. Just write them down. I promise you’ll feel better knowing that they are collected, where you won’t forget them. Let them sit and put them away. They’ll be there when the dirty work begins.
In addition, pray about them. Give them to God. Give your book to God. Truly, it’s harder than it seems. I’m planning on doing an article just on this topic because of its necessity. He knows your brain better than you know yourself.
So, do you have those questions down? Great! Let’s start to re-focus.
First, orient yourself with the story. Remember the theme. Remember why you’re writing. Look over the key aspects of your characters.
Most of all, remember why you love it.
Think about the moment you found your idea. Remember that wave of “what-if” and the slow obsession with a certain character and plot twist? Editing is rediscovering jewels. Dig through the sloppy sentences, the added descriptions, the over-bearing name-changing. In the end, that doesn’t matter. There is treasure to be found. Cling to this, and let it carry you over the finish line.
Step 2: The Read-Through
Honestly, this part is a love/hate relationship.
Most of the time, I enjoy it. It’s like seeing an old best friend! But then again, it’s like… this is an old best friend who has a weird fashion sense and does not like to shower. However, you know that the clothes and outward appearance doesn’t change their kind, loving heart. This can be your book. At first look, you might be appalled at all the surface-level madness. Look deeper, writer friend.
When you think of this mentality, it can be a crazy cool experience.
My encouragement for y’all is to MAKE IT FUN. Grab a cup of tea, coffee, or whatever drink you like, snuggle up in some covers, and settle down for a story. Your story.
Now, you can make notes along the way but most likely you’ll need to change some deep things later. I usually just read through, not looking back, cringing at the weird parts, laughing at the ‘trying-to-be-funny’ dialogue, enjoying the good lines, and anticipating the future draft.
Don’t over-think it. You’re not stressing over the grammar right now. Even if it’s riddled with those pesky red lines, don’t do it! I turn that feature off and let my eyes just glaze over. Normally, I don’t change a single thing. It can be torture but in the long run, I’m always thankful.
Also, try to read it as fast as possible. This will also simulate when others read your book and are gripping the pages, desperate for the next chapter. *winks* Timeframe-wise, I would suggest 1/2 days unless you write 800,000-word fantasy epics. Good luck to those brave souls.
Trust me, it can be fun. Push your major-inner critic back and just let your kind, gracious, editor pull through and roll the story around in your mind. Think about it this way. If your friend gave you a draft, would you start complaining about it to them with passionate fire? I certainly hope not. Then why would you do it to yourself? I know, as writers, we can be our harshest critics. We’re not negative reviewers, we’re editors. The difference is the heart’s motivation. Out of this can flow either encouragement or destruction.
Additionally, this step can be the easiest and the hardest. You might say to me, “Eden, how hard could it be? You’re just reading.”
No, you’re not just reading. This is not just some book. It’s a vulnerable overflow of your heart. Don’t throw your computer against the wall when you see a single mistake! You wrote a book. That’s amazing!
Remember dear author, you can turn it into something beautiful.
You can sculpt, mold, and savor the truth, goodness, and beauty you’re bringing to the table.
You’re searching for treasures, friend.
Let’s find them.