As I write this, I’m putting the finishing touches on a major revision of my novel-in-progress. The next step is to send it to my agent, who will decide whether or not the manuscript is Ready with a capital R.
One of the hardest things as a writer, no matter whether you’re just about to start the querying stage or writing your umpteenth book under contract, is knowing when the book is done. It’s easy to rush these things. We’re so exhausted at the end of any draft that it’s tempting to just say Take it, it’s done, it’s the best I can do.
But is it?
There are nearly countless things you can do on a “final” read. Frankly, I considered making this a list of 50. But in the end, the answer is different for everybody. It’s absolutely essential, for example, to check for anachronisms in historical fiction — but obviously that’s irrelevant if your novel is set in the present day.
So if you’re going through your manuscript “one last time”, make it three last times, and take a look at these final touches that can make or break a book.
Follow your key thread all the way through. It might be the relationship between two characters if your book is a love story; it could be the progress of your main character from weak and uncertain to powerful and strong. It could be the series of clues that outs the murderer in a mystery. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, chances are you’ve added and deleted some scenes along the way, maybe changed the order around — does everything still make sense? Read only for what’s on the page in this draft, not all those other drafts before. [Read more…]