In keeping with our theme for the month of January, new beginnings - a great place to start, I want to give a few tips about something not usually associated with beginnings - revision.
Where do you start when it comes to revising your manuscript?
Your first draft, or possibly your fifth or sixth or more, is finally finished. Now, as some say, the real work begins. Here are a few suggestions, based on my own personal experience as well as things I've picked up through conferences and professional reading, that may help ease you into the process and make your final product better.
1) Hide your manuscript in a drawer and forget about it for a while, a week or longer, or as long as six months. When you look at it again, you will see it with a set of fresh eyes. You will notice things that need to be changed. Passages you once thought were fantastic might stand out to you as being from that of a beginner.
2) Give the manuscript to a trusted reader or two, individuals who can come at your story with a set of fresh eyes. Allow them to make comments, but more importantly, listen to what they have to say and don't be afraid to implement their suggestions.
3) Read your manuscript out loud. This will let you hear what your story really sounds like. It will let you catch so many more mistakes
4) This one is obviously tedious, but when trying to catch typographical errors, read the manuscript from ending to beginning. This will force you to read one word at a time instead of skimming over sentences or passages you assume are correct (be careful here for synonyms that might be spelled correctly, yet might not fit properly into the passage.)
5) Ask yourself when reading passages or scenes... does this really contribute to the overall theme of your manuscript? Does it have bearing on the plot? In these sections, you may have done some fantastic writing, and because of that are hesitant to put it on the chopping block. As one friend often reminds me, "Don't be afraid to kill your darlings."
6) If, when reading over your manuscript, you question whether a passage should be included, the answer is that more than likely it should not be. It could be that once again you are just hesitant to cut something that is really well-written.
I'm interested to hear some other tips on revising, as my approaches to revising are by no means the only way to do things. Or, if you use any of the approaches above, which ones do you use?