Starting The Final Draft of Your Novel
When does final really mean final?
Either way you answer this, we all have a moment where we start edits, rewrites, or polishing a previous draft in hopes or knowing that it is the final draft before sending off to agents, querying, or whatever way you go about publishing work.
The mindset and drive to finish the final draft is so tedious, but the writing and editing itself is a task that even I have not experienced yet regarding a full length novel. Doing so with a short story was high stakes enough, I cannot imagine the feeling with my novel.
So, in thinking about so, it seemed only right to hop onto Twitter and ask the question:
Best advice for starting the final draft of your novel?
I left the question quite vague but also specific enough to where I could accumulate answers and provide some to you. To assure both you and I that the final draft feeling is something we all witness. Even the amazing writers of Twitter with one or dozens of books out in the world.
Let’s begin. To start, how about physically getting prepared? Some writers say a place with no distractions, your mind is free to wander but not wander to scrolling on social media or chatting with a friend at a cafe. No. Keep it distraction free other than your mind, which my mind is a huge distraction in itself, and the draft. It reminds me of the Neil Gaiman approach, one I am excited to try when I have down time to experiment in the summer.
A big note in this strategy is to really just read the story for what it is. And to remember subconsciously that you are the writer and editor. The master of the piece. If something does not seem to work in a scene or chapter… cut it. Who’s there to tell you no?
Some people have taken classes on advanced revision and learned invaluable lessons from so. A main one being to take the edits at a macro level first. This means to look at the story for its umbrella effect, a bird’s eye view of the whole thing. In doing so, look for continuity issues or character holes. Then, use those notes to fix redundancy and add to the clarity.
A similar yet different approach is to read the story as if you are someone different. Whether that be someone who has just never read the story before, or someone with a more scientific or analytical mind than your own. Do some research on cases in which you can see how these personality types differ when thinking creativity or strategically, then apply those to your reading.
Have a critical edge.
It’s your writing. The only feelings you are going to hurt are your own… and I feel like that is inevitable sometimes anyway. Just go for it.
Writers mention that the final is never the final. Which brings me back to the question at the beginning of this article… when is the final draft, really?
That’s up for interpretation.
Put the story away for a month. Let it marinate. I like this one, I do it for every draft and have heard suggestion to do so with every draft, but I like the reminder that just because it is the “final” draft, does not mean it gets special treatment of not marinating like the others.
Marinating? Is that a weird word to use?
Organizing is also a key aspect for writers. To organize the process in which the edits will be made and executed. To keep notes and look into the assets of the story. Find a good balance because to a lot of writers, the editing process is much longer than the writing process.
A lot of you say to just do it. Just do it. Just keep going.
Easier said than done, but at the end of the day it is true. Sometimes having a plan and organizing is more overwhelming than not. Sometimes we need to just open the notebook or laptop or notes app on our phones and just do it. Just write down ideas, just read through, just jot down errors to come back to, just do something!
I like the approach of editing backwards. I have never done it before but am willing to give it a go. Especially after letting the story sit for a while, sometimes subplots and key points surprise me and I forget I wrote it.
Does that happen to you or do I just have a short term memory? Or maybe I just blank and blur while writing? Who knows.
But in this backward strategy, you could approach it sentence by sentence. This can help with the sentence structure in act three where you might have gotten a little too loose with execution as the climax and resolution were approaching.
And the final point of advice is that sometimes you just have to be done. Let go and let the story live its life.
I’m honestly scared to get to this point. I think a lot of writers are.
We constantly find changes and I am waiting for the day I pick my book up on a bookstore shelf, flip to a page, find an error or minor detail I wish to change, and just laugh at my over analytical self.
Writing the darn book was amazing in itself. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Talk to you soon,