Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Polishing Up a Draft

cohdra100_1413Before I emailed the Memphis 3 manuscript to my agent on Monday, I followed a checklist of problems to look for and things to do before submitting the document.

I tried to read the first five chapters as if I were a brand-new reader for the series. Would it all make sense to someone reading about these characters for the first time?

I made sure I’d sketched out the characters and setting—and not just kept it all in my head and thought I’d written it out.

Readers let me know (they’re good about that :) ) that they wanted more chapter breaks. I put in breaks around every ten pages.

I looked for my favorite words that I overuse.

I looked for wishy-washy words that undermine my writing: “I think,” “maybe,” “I guess,” “a little,” “some,” “seem.”

I looked for filler words.

I looked for repetition in the story and repetition in dialogue.

I looked for anything murky that sounded confusing.

I made sure the characters seemed consistent from start to finish (unless I wanted them to change—and I made sure I had good motivation for a change.)

I looked for continuity errors and other boo-boos.

I sketched out a timeline as I read the draft and made sure the story was linear and made sense with the timeline.

What kinds of things do you look for when you revise? And…if you write different genres, do you look for different things?