Tip 4. Reviewing your first draft
After several hours, weeks, even months of writing, you’ve finally got your first draft together. So what’s next?
Stop. Take a break. I recommend that you put it away for a couple of weeks if you possibly can and give your head and writing arm (or fingers) a rest.
It’s time for the first edit and the reason I think you need a break is that you are going to have to move into a new process. I like to think that I’m taking my creative, writer’s head off and putting my more technical, process-driven editor’s head on.
First re-read what you’ve written. As you re-read, try to put yourself into your reader’s shoes. Will it make sense to someone who doesn’t have all your knowledge and expertise? Will it be clear to your audience? Is there any jargon that needs explaining?
Once you’ve checked this you may find you need to revise some areas. You may have discovered some repetition in the book and, while this can be helpful in some circumstances, if you do repeat yourself make sure there’s a good reason for doing so.
Start to clean up any poor grammar, spelling and punctuation. If spelling isn’t your strong point, by all means use a spell checker, but do be careful to check what it’s done to your words, as there are lots of things that spell checkers don’t recognise and get wrong. If you aren’t the greatest at grammar, don’t panic! There are lots of brilliant editors out there who can help you get it right, so think about running it past someone who does it professionally or contact The HotHive.
Have a think about any diagrams or illustrations that might make things clearer for your readers. Now would be a good moment to find out from your publisher how you need to prepare these illustrations, or if rough sketches will be all they require for their designers to work from.
In the next tip we will look at getting some feedback on your manuscript.