You’ve just hit The End on your novel.
You do the Snoopy Dance like nobody’s watching.
You take the shower that’s four days overdue.
Then you hop into your romance author group on FB and tell everyone “This girl is done and done and my baby is off to the editor.”
<insert record scratch here>
First…congrats for writing a book because we all know that shizz ain’t easy. Not everyone can brag about that, amiright? Cheers. I’m drinking a glass of Moscato over here in your honor.
Second…bless your heart, Writer McWriterton, for thinking you were done. Just an FYI for ya, there’s a reason why it’s called a “first draft”.
There’s a reason why Ernest Hemingway was quoted as saying “the first draft of anything is shit.” Because it is. And Mr. Hemingway would never lead you astray.
What you just did was word-vomit all over two hundred-something pages. If you don’t clean up your mess before sending it off to an editor, that editor is going to gag on the smell and run in the other direction (possibly to the nearest toilet).
Was that too graphic for you?
My bad. But it’s a harsh world out there for people like you, Writer McWriterton. Time to pull up your Feisty Panties and grow a thick skin.
The fact that you even want to send it off to an editor is awesomesauce, but there a few things you need to do before hitting that button:
1) FUHGEDDABOUTIT - Leave your story alone for about a week and let it breathe. For that matter, you should do the same. Dance, shower, drink, reconnect with your family and friends, read, Netflix and chill, do nothing writing-related.
2) Eye-bang It. Okay, party’s over. Break time is up and you need to get back to work. Do about fifty woosah's, then open up your file and prepare to eliminate overused words, remove placeholders that were never changed or removed, remove notes to yourself within the text, fix any inconsistencies, kill #AlltheDarlings, etc. You’ll thank me later. No really, you will.
3) Read it Aloud. Remember when your parents used to read bedtime stories to you? I loved that! I had a fifth grade teacher (Mrs. Yates) and a seventh grade teacher (Mrs. Hornbaker) who used to take time during class and read to us. I really miss those days. Mrs. Yates used to do it after recess (genius, really), slowly walking up and down the aisles in her stockinged feet, the rhythmic cadence of her voice putting us (read: me) to sleep. And Mrs. Hornbaker, in her raspy, pack-of-cigarettes-a-day voice introduced us to The Outsiders. #StayGoldPonyboy But I digress. You can only read something so many times before your eyes start skipping over words. Reading your work aloud will help you “hear” your mistakes. And maybe you can’t read your story to your kids, because, inappropriate content. But your furbabies (if you have any) might be great listeners. Or your significant other may get a kick out of it, too. <wink-wink, nudge-nudge>
4) Use Self-Editing Tools. If you want to give your eyes and voice a little bit of a break, you can run your manuscript through editing tools such as Autocrit, ProWritingAid, and Wordrake. Just remember that these tools shouldn’t replace editors altogether. Humans and software alike are not infallible.
Writing a novel is a great accomplishment. After spending so much time on it, your first instinct is to send it out into the world. I get it. But you don’t send your kids out half-naked, so don’t do the same to your “other” kid. Save yourself the extra work on the back end and be sure to do some self-editing on the front end.
9 Ways to Pay for Editing Services
3 Reasons Why You Need a Professional Proofreader
Are you in need of a proofreader? Click the button below to request a quote...