In the last post we discussed rewriting. Now let’s look at the first step of the actual process:

Start by reading the entire manuscript. Don’t make any marks on the paper even if you spot errors. Instead, try to get a feel for the whole story.  Here are some of the big ideas to address:

  •  Do you start with something that immediately makes the reader curious?
  •  Does the story flow or did you notice points at which it was too slow, too fast, or confusing?
  •  Are there story strands you started but didn’t finish? List them.
  •  Are there characters who seem one-dimensional?  List them.
  •  Are the relationships interesting? If not, write down which ones are lacking.
  •  Does the ending flow without being totally predictable?

It’s tempting to jump right in and indicate small changes at this stage, but you may decide to change entire portions. Also, focusing on the small stuff may distract you from the big things that need to change.

Don’t change anything at this point. Otherwise, you will get back into the creative state and lose your objectivity. Remember, you’re still just writing down what needs to change, not yet how to change it.

In the next post we’ll look at the next step of rewriting.