Before you decide that your book is finished and you are ready to spend time and money working with an editor I would suggest a round of self edits. This is the real work. If you thought that telling the story the first time was the hard part, you might be in for a surprise. Over the next few posts I will be talking about the work that comes after the first draft.
Step One. Take a break.
Most writers understand that after writing a book, you need to give the story some space to breath. I usually tell people a month is good. There’s no rush. Give yourself some distance so that when you come back to the manuscript the material is fresh. You will be better able to recognize common problems, and will be more willing and open to making changes.
Step Two – Begin Again
When you return to the story, read it through and ask yourself a few questions. Does it seem that you have read this story a dozen times before? Does it have some twist to make it different? Did you open yourself in the story to taking a chance? If not, what element can be introduced to make the book an original? Every story has been told. But what makes your book a fresh read for the lover of the genre it represents?
When I speak about originality, I am not suggesting that you take a historical love story and throw aliens in for the heck of it. As an author you offer your reader a promise – to give them a story that they will understand and appreciate within its genre or sub-genre. Each part of your books plays to this promise, from the cover to the opening, through the middle to the end. Don’t disappoint.
This is the most difficult part of self editing, but it is also the step I recommend first and the one most people want to skip. They want to talk about the mechanics of the writing, the grammar and the structure. Those are important. But this is the essence of your work. Begin here. Read your book, think it over. Know your genre. Hopefully, before you ever began writing this book you read others within the genre to understand the author’s promise to the reader.
Next we will look at the opening of your book.