You’ve completed your novel. It’s so horrible that you’re ashamed. What on earth gave you the idea that you could write a novel, much less write bestselling fiction? Calm down. If you’ve got a mess, that’s AMAZING. It’s exactly what you’re supposed to have at the first draft stage.
Seriously. Never, ever worry about your first draft. You’ve got a NOVEL — even in potential, and that’s a huge achievement. Celebrate that.
(Please be aware that your novel may still be at the first draft stage, even if you’ve written several drafts… Many new authors fiddle with sentence structure and word choice, and imagine that they’re writing a draft. You’re not. You’re copyediting.)
All bestselling fiction goes through a chaotic stage
Let’s look at what a “draft” is. Creating a second draft/ rewriting isn’t recreating your novel from the beginning. (That said, it can be, if you feel that you’ve missed the mark completely and want a do-over.) If anything, rewriting is more akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle, while creating some new pieces to fit.
Let’s look at some tips to help.
1. What are you writing? What’s the genre and story question?
Before you do anything else, reread what you’ve written.
Makes notes on the emotional highpoints — what makes you feel? Fiction is all about emotion, so you need to know what works, and what doesn’t, at this stage.
Then decide on your genre, if you haven’t done it already. Also, check to see whether you have a story question — this is the one essential which turns a mess into a potential bestselling novel.
2. Rewrite your major scenes: these are the BIG scenes in your novel
If you’re not sure about scenes, this article will help, Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction: 5 Magical Tips:
Scenes are the building blocks of your fiction
In the 21st century, every reader understands drama.
TV and movie stories are delivered in scenes. If you want lots of readers, you need to learn to deliver your stories in scenes too.
Readers are impatient. They just want the story. Deliver. Show, rather than tell. “Showing” means writing in scenes.
You’ll have two or three major scenes. Rewrite these, without focusing on what you’ve written. You know your story, your aim now is to deliver emotion in all your scenes, but most especially in the big scenes of your novel.
3. Check for holes in your plot: create new scenes
All plots have holes. You can ask someone else to find them for you, but try to do it yourself. Read through your novel again, and check the characters’ behavior and thoughts. Do they make sense, logically? If any character’s behavior doesn’t make sense, that’s fine — you’ll need to foreshadow the weird behavior.
While you’re checking, write new scenes where you need them.
4. Characters: introducing a character, and showing character changes
Next, focus on your characters. Check how you introduce your main characters. Your main characters will change in your novel, as they grow from their experiences. Make sure you’re showing the changes.
5. Check (or create) your timeline
Timelines can be tricky. You can have someone’s mother marrying at five years old, and a character in London when he’s supposed to be on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.
And your draft is done… now comes editing. 🙂
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