What to do after your first draft is written

The next stage

Update on the last post: I have written the final sentence of the first draft of book3.

All the work starts now:

1. Transfer the file to Kindle as personal document/print it out to read it through;

2. Go back and do the research fine points (Do you know the difference between a carabiner and a belayer?);

3. Check the eye and hair colours and the height and build of your characters are consistent;

4. Make sure a character doesn’t know something before they’ve been told/found it out;

5. Make sure you don’t have it snowing in June in the northern hemisphere;

6. Fill in, yes add, description/ narrative where you skimmed over it and where it’s necessary;

7. Check the voice is consistent and characters use the correct register in their speech;

8. Substitute  ‘dynamic’ verbs for boring or limp-wristed ones and active voice for lurking passives;

9. Put ‘very’, ‘then’, ‘mostly’, ‘quite’, ‘nearly’, etc. through the Star Chamber;

10. Make every sentence a true gem – no clunkiness, no gratuitous or padding words, and ask if each sentence is really necessary to the text;

11. Read it aloud, all the way through – no cheating;

12. Make your eyes bleed by checking that every single comma, semi-colon, colon, speech mark, exclamation and question mark is necessary, in the right place and correctly typed.

After that, repeat 1 to 12.



8 comments to What to do after your first draft is written

  • Cat

    This is self-inflicted torture!

  • Alison

    Ah, but what are writers if not masochists?

  • Erm, “star chamber”? What is a star chamber?

  • Alison

    Haha! Never ask a historian to explain anything unless you have a lot of time.

    Very briefly, the Star Chamber set up in 1487 as a fast-track system to ensure the fair enforcement of laws against prominent people, those so powerful that ordinary courts could never convict them of their crimes. Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. Like many things that seem a good idea at the time, it got political and led to abuse and misuse. It was abolished in 1641.

    Today, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called star chambers. It’s a bit pejorative, but apt for those fluffy, puffy hanger-on words like ‘very’, ‘then’, ‘mostly’, ‘quite’ and ‘nearly’.

    History lesson over. 😉

  • And the difference between Carabiner and Carabinieri?

    No, just kidding, Alison, a most useful check-list. One I’ve saved to file for future reference (I know no higher accolade!).

  • Alison

    Thanks, Philip. Glad you found it useful.
    I expect you’ve looked it up, but here’s the carabiner explanation…

  • Yes, I endorse all the tips in your blog. Trouble is, I need tips on what to do after 25th draft is written! Do I say ‘enough is enough’ or do I still keep twiddling with it, which might possibly be a procrastination ploy not to get on with next novel?

    But nice blog, Alison, and useful if one follows all the advice therein!

  • Alison

    Maybe a good ploy is to leave the 25th draft in the drawer for a while, at least two months, six if you can.

    If it still looks fine when you read it again, either submit it until you can’t bear it any longer or self-publish it.

    In the meantime, you will have written the next novel…