Buy Some Fresh Eyes: Let Your Novel Rest

Mamma Mia & Paladine Rest Their Paws.

Have you typed “The End” on a novel? Congratulations! Most first novels aren’t finished–they’re abandoned. But what now?
Writing Tip for Today: A first draft is something to celebrate but it’s still a first draft. As you complete that draft, you are TOO CLOSE to the story and the writing to be an objective editor. Best advice? PUT IT ASIDE.

  • Rest. If yours is a first novel, I recommend letting it rest a month or more. Some call this manuscript gestation. As the mob might say, “Fuggedaboutit.” Meanwhile, get busy on another writing project. Write fast and every day if you can.
  • Read. At the end of the rest period, read your work straight through. Take simple notes on problem areas or other corrections, but NO EDITING. You want to gauge the story strength at this point. 
  • Revise. After the read-through, try to fix STORY PROBLEMS before you fix word choices or smooth out sentences. A storyboard can be useful for identifying plot holes or redundancies. Revision will probably take longer than your drafting, so do it in LAYERS. WORKSHOP your story if you can, to help maintain objectivity. Remember: Write fast, but edit slow.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Buy Some Fresh Eyes: Let Your Novel Rest

  1. Hi Linda! This is exactly what I did with mine! Although I didn’t bother to edit my first manuscript just yet. when I was done, I discovered a lot of errors with the structure and other things, and by then, I had grown so much, so I painfully set it aside and began another project fast. Imagine my speed by then. I hope to return to my first manuscript and carefully sort it out. But for now, I need time away from it. I’ve discovered that for my journey as a writer, it was a smart decision. It’s giving me time to grow more before I return with fresh eyes to pieces it and put it back together again. And I love my journey so far! 🙂

    ~ Miranda

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