Once you have taken your manuscript to the point where you are calling it a first draft, sleep on it.
I have tried reading a draft within a week of writing it and I missed so many mistakes because my head was still in the story and I was reading what I thought I wrote instead of what was on the page. Nowadays I give it to someone else to read while I take a hard earned rest for a 5 or 6 weeks and write some poetry. The person (if it is a gripping yarn) will get back to you inside a week and I have had them back to me before the weekend was over, and they will give you feedback on typos and on things they did not understand. Do not be tempted to reach for the bottom drawer where you have strategically put your copy of the manuscript to go through it and see what they are talking about. Let the feedback float around in the back of your mind and get back to that poetry. Its therapeutic.
When the time is right and you go back to it you will be amazed at what you find. I have been through a manuscript in the last six months where I changed over 75% of the lines (most in very small ways to do with wording)and I am sure I would not have made that many changes if my head was still where it was a week after writing it.
My sister read one of my books once and gave me feedback that the woman could not have done what she did in the time frame suggested, it was physically impossible for her to recover form the trauma she had been through in that time. The urge for me was to argue the point but I let it float around in my head for a month and then went back to the book. When I read that part I found I was right and my sister was wrong, and when I rang her and explained it she got it.
I put the phone down pretty happy with myself.
Then I began to think about this book being a bestseller and what my phone bill would be like if I had to ring every reader and explain the time line to them so it made sense! I rewrote the section thinking from the perspective of the reader and not the characters or myself, as we all knew what was going on!
Even when you are right you have to bow to the needs of the reader and if you rush into the revision phase of your work you may not see that as clearly as you would like.
So when you are done with that first draft, accept congratulations from me on a great effort, drink a bottle of champagne (and please put strawberries in the glass, it is so much better that way) and go and write poetry or short stories or perhaps just go on a little holiday. Whatever you do let your mind recharge and then tackle the hard stuff of revision.
And one last word, when revising be ready to cut what does not fit, even if it is brilliant writing.
3 weeks ago