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So you’ve Finished Your Rough Draft.

Posted by Charles Gray on June 20, 2014

Now what?

I’ve just finished the rough draft of Racer’s Dream, which clocked out at about 52,000 words. So it’s a good point to talk about what to do and not do when you have finished your rough draft. A rough draft is exactly that, rough. There will (not might, will) be grammar errors, spelling errors and storyline errors in that rough draft manuscript. So what should you do next? Note that this is what I do and other writers may have their own strategies for polishing up their rough draft into a glorious finished product.


 Don’t publish.


One of the greatest problems with self-publishing is that you have no editor telling you, “it isn’t ready yet.” That job will fall to the people who purchase your book. They will tell you via bad reviews and refusing to buy your stuff ever again. However, the pressure to get it out now can sometimes be overwhelming. Resist that pressure. Remember that you’re not selling a single book; you are selling a brand. And that brand is your writing skill. There are few things more damaging than putting out a subpar product.


 Don’t immediately give your work to your friend to read.


This is not always the case, but in general, a rough draft isn’t ready for others to read. Nobody likes to see grammar and spelling errors and the enthusiasm for reading your rough draft will dim if the reader realizes that you couldn’t even be bothered to fix the obvious problems. When you give your work to someone else to read, it should always be perfect as far as you can see. Just remember that it will not be perfect and that you need to respect the input of your readers.


 Don’t go over your work immediately.


One problem with writing a book and then looking at it yourself is that you’re often too close to what you’ve done. You need to back off for a day or a week, and then come back to your manuscript refreshed and more importantly, not filling everything in as you read it.  Coming back after a break makes it more likely that you’ll catch the sort of errors that don’t leap out at you. Perhaps you find that the character that you know intimately isn’t described enough in the book—because you’ve been filling in all the details in your head when you are describing the character.


 When reviewing, look at your work in several different formats.


For myself, I find that the editing process is often assisted by looking at your work in several different formats. Generate an epub file and read it as an ebook, complete with the bookmarks and TOC you expect to put in the final product. Perhaps go from Scrivener to Word. Change the font size and type as you read it. The point is to try to ensure you’re not just skipping over a sentence or even a paragraph due to the fact that you’ve become used to how the text looks.


These techniques work for me. Other processes may work better for you. However, remember something else:

 Congratulations, you have a rough draft!


This alone puts you ahead of many others who dream about what they’re going to do when they publish a book, but whom never get around to actually writing a book. You’ve created something! Even if the process isn’t finished yet, you should take a bow. You deserve it.


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