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This blog was featured on 03/13/2019
What to Do When You Finish the First Draft of Your Book
Written by
She Writes
March 2019
Written by
She Writes
March 2019

Your first draft is done, you’ve gotten all the words out and you have in front of you something that resembles a book. Now what? Before you pursue the publication process, make sure you take the below steps into consideration. You always want your absolute best work to be sent to editors, agents and publishers, so take the time to get all of your ducks in a row before pushing your book out into the world.

R&R for you and your book

If you’ve just finished your draft, odds are you’re a little tired of staring at your computer screen. Give your work some space by taking a step back and getting some fresh air, some new perspective and a clear head. When you return to your work, you’ll be able to see it differently and will be ready to tackle your story structure with a new kind of gusto. Whether it’s a week or even a few months, it’s healthy to give yourself and your story a break after you finish the first draft.

Revisit what you wrote

Now that you’ve taken some time away from your work, it’s time to look at it through a new lens with your well-rested mind. Whether you’re the type who likes to print their first draft and mark it up or read through it digitally, this is the time to start recognizing what is and isn’t working in your novel—the structure of the story as opposed to editing for grammatical mistakes.

This is your time to take notes and really mark up the pages of your story. Focus on your scenes, character development, any potential plotholes and sections that need to be rewritten. Don’t be alarmed if this process takes up a lot of time; it is time well spent when it comes to the life of your book. In fact, repeating this process at least once more after the initial run will only improve your story overall.

Read your story aloud

While this task may seem tedious, you want your reader to always have the best experience possible when reading your work. To ensure your story maintains a nice flow and is told in a seamless fashion, try reading sections of your story aloud. Letting yourself hear the story can help to avoid awkwardness in dialogue and make sure your words have the feel you want them to. Simply reading a chapter at a time aloud will bring you one step closer to sharing your work with readers, editors and, eventually, agents and publishers.

Read another book in the same genre

Unless you’re actively reading new book releases in the genre you write, it can be hard to know what kinds of stories publishers and agents are looking for. To give yourself a slight advantage and prove to those in the industry that your book is ready, pick up a title that is similar to your own story and get to reading. Once you’ve finished, you’ll be able to go back through your own book and implement what you’ve learned. Are you missing a certain likability to your characters that this other book has? Are you missing an important scene? Find the best elements of other books in your genre and consider implementing them in your own book if you feel it will improve the overall story.

Get inside the head of a reader

You’ve read your book a million times through, compared your work to others in the genre and spent days editing what you have. Now it’s time to get a completely different take on the book. Beta readers are a trusted group of readers who will look at your work from the perspective of a reader. Make sure you’re being mindful of a beta reader’s mind and only sending them the absolute best version of your book. Finding a group of readers who enjoy your genre and will read with a detailed eye are the types of people you want to connect with as they’ll give you the best edits possible. For more information on beta readers, what to look for and where to find them, check out this piece from Helping Writers Become Authors.

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  • Sarah Gordon

    Your way of telling the whole thing in this piece of writing is in fact fastidious, all can simply know it, Thanks a lot.

  • Shanna Pikora Revising

    Thank you so much for this! I have a couple first drafts completed and this helps give me a bit of direction on where to go from here!