How I wrote a novel in five weeks. Part three

Ah, the dreaded third draft! This is where it gets fun.

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” — Mark Twain


In this draft I focus on grammar which includes removing all of my darlings (overused words), look at punctuation, spelling etc. This is all I do on my own. I don’t use any sort of program to do it for me (though if you wish to do that, all the power to you). This is where your MS gets shiny and bright.

  1. Adverbs. They can be used sparingly, but a manuscript with too many adverbs is typically viewed as weak. Example: He turned and ran quickly down the hall. Better: He turned and sprinted down the hall.

  2. Be careful of tense. I used to have this issue BIG TIME and I still do on occasion. If you’re writing in past or present, keep it at past or present.

  3. Shorten and tighten. Not every sentence needs to be flowy and filled with description to a point where it drags. Get to the point.

  4. Look for too many times you have used the word very. This is key.

  5. Opt for more powerful words. Instead of saying, he was large, try, he was built like a concrete house. It makes your reader’s imagination go wild.

  6. For myself, I write in mostly first person present or past tense. If you’re like me, ,try to avoid starting your sentences with too many ‘I’s.’  Example: I felt a hint of sadness. Better: A hint of sadness washed over me. It’s simple things like this that can strengthen your writing.

  7. Contractions. Instead of I cannot go that way! Try, I can’t go that way!

  8. Showing versus telling. This can be a major crutch for writers and it is for me.

  9. Remove what doesn’t make sense. I can let thoughts drag to far too long with my characters especially if they’re in a situation where thinking quick is vital. We don’t need two paragraphs of what he or she thinks about the situation. They need to act.

  10. Last but not least, formatting and chapter headers. Make sure your MS is ready to be read per submission guidelines. I keep mine double spaces, Times, 1 inch margins, 2 inch tabs. Use your word processor to adjust accordingly.

Yea, it seems like a lot, but once you get through the second draft and find your plot solid, editing can be a breeze. You’re able to focus on just that and the more you do it the faster and easier it will be because you can avoid the heavy editing by doing it right in your first draft.

Now it’s off to your beta readers! To be continued.

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