Tips to writing a great second draft of your novel

So you have written your first draft and its now time to go back and make it all nice and shiny. Here are a couple of tips to help you get the most out of re-writing and editing the first draft of your novel.

Wait - The first piece of advice is to wait. By this I mean give it as long as possible between completing your first draft and starting on the second. Waiting weeks or even months will pay off, since you will come back to the text with a renewed vigour and a fresh set of eyes.

Cut and expand - It is essential that you only include text that moves your story forward. Your reader is by nature impatient and they will have little time for bloated paragraphs and fluffy descriptions. Ask yourself as you read - ‘Do I need this section? Does it move the story forward?’ If the answer is no, then cut the text. Painful but essential. By the same vein if a section is essential to the story but does not give enough information or detail, then expand. You can’t assume that readers will know certain facts unless they are presented in black and white.

Ask a friend to read - I recently wrote a blog post about getting the most from third party editing. I would suggest you go back and have a read of this post. A friend’s feedback can be essential, but only if managed correctly.

Read out aloud - I would strongly suggest that you read your text out aloud. I use a software program called TextAloud when editing. This is text-to-speech software that reads back your work. It gives you a new feel for your writing and will highlight any section that are jerky or simply don’t make sense.

Don’t worry about word count - Writers are often obsessed by word counts. You will often find blog posts listing supposed ‘ideal’ word counts for certain genres. The reality is that as long as a novel is not stupidly long or stupidly short, it will be fine. So if your work needs an extra chapter or if you feel a character can be cut - do it! Forget the word count, since the integrity of the narrative is far more important.

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