Stick your manuscript in a drawer for a while before you edit. Or, as novelist Zadie Smith suggests, leave a “decent” space of time between writing something and editing it. As many of you complete your manuscripts for NaNoWriMo, you will be on a tremendous high as you reach the finish line. (And you should be!) You will have the urge to continue the fast pace and charge immediately into revisions. But now it’s important to put some space between you and your work in order to edit from an objective and fresh perspective. After finishing Baby Grand at the beginning of August, I took about a week to 10 days to read the manuscript over and edit, and when I submitted to my agent, I was quite happy with the draft. Then imagine my surprise when I started reading Baby Grand again this month for some minor revisions to find there were problems — plot disconnects, clunky language, weak character descriptions and just some things that I didn’t like. It was quite the eye opener. While I can’t tell you exactly how much time to put between the writing and the editing of your work, it should be long enough so that when you begin to read over your stuff, the familiarity with it has gone, and it feels almost as if you’re reading it for the first time.
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