It’s been about a month since I completed the first draft of my second book, At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy. I usually let the first draft sit four to eight weeks before I rewrite. This allows me to look at the work with fresh eyes and new perspective. There are many important factors to consider when rewriting. Here are four quick tips:
1. Make sure your story makes sense. Look for any pieces of information that either don’t belong or are not resolved later in the story and get rid of them or resolve them. Add information only if it’s needed to help the story make sense, or for emotional impact.
2. Get rid of little errors. Whether they are errors of fact, typos, misspelled words, or poor grammar, they must go. Don’t depend on spell check. Use your eyes. Pay close attention to punctuation around dialogue. It’s easy to forget a quotation mark or comma when your on a roll. Be vigilant.
3. Reduce the clutter. I always tell my writing students that most writers use too many words. Many sentences have too many adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions that don’t add anything to the story. Cut ‘em.
4. Verbalize. As you rewrite, look at your choice of verbs. Change plain verbs to verbs that zing whenever possible. Often, finding the right verb helps to minimize the words in a given sentence. Read your work out loud. In my first book A Train Called Forgiveness I purposefully wrote for the voice. We don’t speak in long, winding sentences and paragraphs. We speak in short, simple sentences and phrases. Keep your writing concise.