Thursday, August 10

Posted by Laurel Garver on Thursday, August 10, 2017 1 comment
By guest author SM Ford
First drafts are a bit like this...

Your first draft is done. Now what? Here’s what works for me.

  1. I read through the entire manuscript looking for bumps. If anything stops me, something is wrong. It could be awkward phrasing, missing information, unnecessary detail, lack of emotion, etc. I might even realize a scene is unnecessary or that I’ve left out major plot points.
  2. If the bumps are minor, I fix them as I go.
  3. Major bumps will need more thought and time, so I note them down in my story timeline to come back to later. (A story timeline is a mini-outline I create as I write since I am not an outliner. It helps me know when and where things happened in the story.)
  4. I watch my pacing. Shorter sentences help move the story along in tense times. Longer sentences can give a calmer more relaxed feeling. Did events happen too slowly or too quickly?
  5. Once I’ve reached the end, I ask myself, did the story feel satisfying or was something missing? Did my character change and grow? Was the main problem solved by the character? Did I make the character work to reach the solution? If anything felt too easy, it’s time to complicate my character’s life some more.
  6. Next, it’s time to look at my story timeline more closely. Besides looking at any major bumps I’ve noticed in my read through, I look at the order of scenes. Are they logical? Is each scene necessary? I check the subplots. Did any get lost? Are there places I need to expand?
  7. Now I add new scenes, rearrange scenes, expand or cut scenes as required. 
  8. I relook at the beginning of my story. Is my beginning strong? Compelling and believable? Did I start too early or too late?
  9. Is the setting clear in each scene so my characters aren’t standing before a blue screen? Including at least three sensory details will help with this. 
  10. Then I read through the entire manuscript again. Fix and repeat as above until I don’t see anything to fix.

Now it’s on to polishing. 
  1. I use “find” to search for and destroy (or replace) overused words. I know some of my weaknesses include forms of “looking” and “turning” which are filler actions. I consider each case. Is there a stronger action that will include sensory details? Is there a better action that will help establish setting? Often, the answer is yes. Others include: “just,” “very,” “finally,” “so,” “then,” “that,” “well,” and “really.” I ask myself, how can I say it better? My critique group calls me the “as” Nazi as I’m always on the lookout for overuse of that word, too.
  2. I search for adverbs and weak verbs that could be replaced with stronger verbs by searching for “ly.”
  3. I find passive writing by searching for “ing.”
  4. Of course, I’ve run spell check, but do I have the wrong word, such as to instead of too? Or reins instead of rains?
  5. Is my punctuation correct?
  6. Have I used the right adjective for a noun? Or would a more specific noun be better? E.g. A big dog is vague.  A humongous dog is stronger, but still relative. A German Shepard or Great Dane are both big but very different. Or use a metaphor, but not a cliché. E.g. The dog was as big as a horse.
  7. Have I overused my characters’ names in dialogue? 
  8. I check my “said”s. If I have a “said to him” and only two people are in the room, why would I need “to him?” Probably rarely needed even if multiple people are in the room. If I have a “said and” followed by an action, why not just use the action?
  9. Tightening. Are there redundancies that need to be cut? On the sentence level can I say it with less words?
  10. All this done, I reread the entire manuscript again. By now it should be flowing smoothly. If not, I revise some more.

Of course, once the book goes to a publisher, more editing will be done. I like this quote by Linda W. Jackson, “First drafts are paper plates. After many revisions, they become fine china.” Here’s to making china!

About the Author

SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too.

When she was 13 she got hooked on Mary Stewart's romantic suspense books, although she has been a reader as long as she can remember, and is an eclectic reader. Inspirational authors she enjoys include: Francine Rivers, Bodie Thoene, Dee Henderson, Jan Karon, and many more.

SM Ford is a Pacific Northwest gal, but has also lived in the midwest (Colorado and Kansas) and on the east coast (New Jersey). She and her husband have two daughters and two sons-in-law and three grandsons. She can't figure out how she got to be old enough for all that, however.

She loves assisting other writers on their journeys and is a writing teacher, speaker, mentor, and blogger about writing.

Connect with her here: website / blog RSS / Twitter / Facebook /  Goodreads

About the Book

ALONE is an inspirational romantic suspense published by Clean Reads in 2016.

Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year-old doesn’t count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark’s oh so good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she’ll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job.
Will Cecelia’s faith in God get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?

Available here:  Amazon / Barnes and Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Smashwords

Do you have a revision checklist like this? What parts of revision do you enjoy most? Like least? Any questions for SM?

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