Today is my last Monday of high school, so I thought it’d be fitting to release some of my knowledge.
I have edited (seemingly) thousands upon thousands of first drafts, so I hope that by this time I know a thing or two.
I think the hardest thing to get over about your first draft is that it isn’t perfect. Sorry. Even though you’ve spent hours and hours formulating this work, it’s not in it’s perfection stages yet.
This is especially important to remember when you do your first read through after its completion. It’s not just you. I know that I am very guilty of getting ‘down in the dumps’ after finishing the first draft of anything. While I was writing this draft, I thought it was going great… Now reading it, I don’t know how I could have possibly thought that.
First drafts aren’t meant to be perfect. Period.
Okay, but now since we’ve passed the depressed stage, we can move onto the actual editing part. I’ve found it easiest to do your editing in stages. It gets very overwhelming when you try to do it all at once.
- First, you need to edit for content. Don’t pay attention to any grammar, yet. Look at all of your content. Plotholes? Fix them. Accidentally changed someone’s eye color midway through the book? Fix it. Content editing needs to be done first, because you may end up making more grammar mistakes as you go. You’re going to need to do a few read-throughs of your draft before you can be confident that you don’t miss anything. It may even help you on your first read through to mark off places where you can add more details or where a significant plothole begins.
- Next, check out your grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It’s easy to accidentally misspell a word that isn’t caught by your word processor. (Ex: saying sliver instead of silver) It’s important to do a close read of your story at this point. When you’re doing a close read of the story, it’s a lot harder to identify plotholes and content mistakes, because you’re not reading for understanding this time.
- Lastly, work on formatting. Listen to me. Please, listen to me. Trust me when I say DO YOUR FORMATTING LAST. I’m saving you about 10 levels of stress if you follow that rule. Why, you ask? Well, because if you format your chapters out and then add more content in, it shifts all of your pages off. It sucks. Don’t do it.
I hope you all, like me, are prepared to enjoy your week ahead. And yes, I’m close to entering the first draft editing stage, so wish me luck!