Finishing a manuscript is one of the greatest accomplishments you can achieve. It’s tough work starting from scratch and typing up the last word but the rewards are great. However, sometimes, well, most of the times, it doesn’t end there. Next, comes editing and for the most part, this also includes rewriting some scenes, entire chapters, or maybe even the entire story.
There are many ways to edit a manuscript and there are many different ways it can be done depending on the writer. However, the most important part is to let the manuscript sit for a while before actually starting to edit it. If the story is still ‘fresh’ in your mind then you won’t be able to notice anything wrong with it. The time away from the manuscript depends on the person.
I liked to find a few close friends/beta readers and ask them to read my manuscript. Not only do I take some time off but it also gives me something to wait on e.g. critiques/comments. It’s also during this time that I like to look over my characters and notes. I’m not looking to change anything but I do think about the ways in which I wrote my characters and if I brought them to life on the page. I also tend to replay key scenes in my head and re-imagine them. What would happen if I change this particular line of dialogue? Or what if I make my character do this instead?
Although I keep repeating myself I will always say that no one method of editing is wrong or right. One way may work better for one person than another.
It’s also a good idea, I found, to convert your manuscript into a .pdf file and read it like a book. You can’t edit and it forces you to read your story without being able to change anything. I typically do this during my waiting time, looking specifically for sentences that don’t really make sense or could use improvement and for small typos. Usually when I read my manuscript I can get a hint of what is missing but they aren’t set in stone until I get back some comments. Usually, my suspicions are correct and some comments point out things that need improvements.
Taking critiques comes with a grain of salt. Some people might respond differently to your writing and that’s okay. Ultimately, it’s your choice as a writer that counts. If the plot is lacking, you usually have to rewrite the entire story but even then that’s nothing to feel dishearten about. I have rewritten one manuscript five times, from scratch, and though it has taken over five years to make it feel right, it’s the best possible version that it could be. Scenes can be written and so can dialogue.
As long as you’re willing to make changes and abandon some things then rewriting will be easier. Accept the fact that it won’t be easy to begin with and go from there.