WRITING TIPS: MARCH 2019

A FINAL READ-THROUGH

So you’ve had your manuscript edited and/or had a team (or even just one or two) beta readers read your manuscript (you can go back to the prior posts where we discussed all of these things). And now you’re ready to hit the publish button.

But maybe not yet. I would suggest at least one more read-through. Of course you would have already made the changes your editor suggested, and any changes that your beta readers suggested. You would have fixed all of the typos and grammar errors. But even after all of that’s done, I still believe it’s important to give your manuscript at least one last read-through. You may catch that one last typo that others missed, or you may want to change a word here or there, or make a sentence clearer, or catch a lapse in the continuity of the story.

For me, after years as a professional writer, I get a certain feeling when I think my manuscript is finally ready to be published. Do I think it’s perfect or even complete? No. Never. I’m never satisfied with my books. Even to this day I don’t think my books are as good as they could be, and I have to resist the urge to go back and tinker with all of them. It’s like an artist who is finished with a painting, but the artist keeps “touching up” the work, adding a little paint here or there. You could keep doing that forever if you let yourself. At some point you need to just let the work go, set it free and send it out into the world. I believe most writers and artists never think their work is perfect, but often we are too critical of our own work. We may be satisfied that it’s the best we can do, but we may not ever be truly happy with it. I’ve learned through the years that you can drive yourself crazy tinkering with your manuscript over the last few reads. Sometimes you may find yourself changing things just to change things, and it may get to a point where you’re not making the story necessarily better, but just different. And there’s the danger of getting too far away from the original version and passion you had for the story, the passion that made you want to write it in the first place.

So definitely give the manuscript a final read-through, or even two or three read-throughs if you think it needs it. But if you get to a point where you’re just picking at it, or you’re just nervous to publish it, paralyzing yourself with analysis, then just take the plunge and send it in or hit the publish button.

One trick I’ve heard of (I learned this from screenwriting books) is to read your manuscript aloud during one of your final read-throughs. And if you’re not going to read the entire manuscript aloud, maybe you should at least read the dialogue to see if it sounds natural. Sometimes you can spot typos easier if you read aloud because chances are you read slower out loud than you do in your head. Also, you can hear the rhythm of the sentences. Sometimes something that sounds good in your head may not sound as great out loud and could need some changes. And don’t forget, you may want to create an audio book from your novel or book, and reading it aloud could be a preview of what it’s going to sound like.

So give your manuscript that one last read-through to make sure it’s as good as you can get it, then take the plunge and get it out there.

Now that your manuscript is finally ready to be published, we’ll talk about other things you’re going to need to get done in upcoming posts including: selecting a cover for your book, formatting your books, writing the description, etc. I hope you’ll stick around for those posts. And please feel free to comment on any of these posts – I would love to hear from you.

I hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .

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