5 Tips for Your Second Draft


NaNoWriMo is almost over! Most of you will hopefully be putting the finishing touches on your first draft and getting ready to write the words ‘The End’ on your manuscript. But the hard part is just starting, the second draft.

Here are 5 tips to help you start the rewriting process:


  1. Take some time away from the manuscript.

This might be one of the most important points when starting a second draft. Spending a week or two, even a month, not working on the manuscript will be beneficial to your writing. ‘Put it in a drawer’ and try to forget about it, focus on some other hobbies, spend time with friends or family, go on holidays. After some time has passed you’ll come back with fresh eyes, hopefully seeing your manuscript in a whole new light, giving you the chance to be more objective during the rewrite.


  1. Print and read aloud.

When you read on screen, often your eye will automatically fill in what should be there, making you miss some important details. So, printing your manuscript on paper is a good practice. This will also make it easier for you to read your work aloud. If anything doesn’t ring true or sound genuine to your ears, then it won’t to the reader either. Mark those passages so that you can work on them later until they feel just right.


  1. Plot

The main question that you have to ask yourself is: Does is work? Is the story compelling, is there a narrative arc, is there a conflict and a resolution? At this stage you’re looking for plot holes and inconsistencies in your narrative. Go through the manuscript scene by scene, evaluate each one of them: what is its purpose; what does it add to the overall story; does it move the narrative forward? Use a critical eye, and don’t be afraid to delete a whole scene – if it’s not beneficial to your plot then is has to go.


  1. Characters

Characters are one of the key elements of each story. They are often the reason why a reader decides to stick with a book, so your characters need to be interesting and intriguing, and compelling. Consistency in the characters is imperative – what’s their physical appearance, how do they behave, how do they relate to other characters, what motivates them, what are their aims. If you have a lot of characters it might be helpful to have a separate sheet with all these details written down, so that every time you encounter a character in your rewrite you can refer back to the details that you jotted down.


  1. Small details

The smaller details are just as important as the whole narrative arc. These can include checking that all the names and locations are consistent, or other obvious mistakes, such as the flowers in one scene being yellow and in the next the same flowers being red.

Here are some links with helpful information for your writing process or pitching your novel to publishers once it’s ready for submission:

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Improving your Writing Skills with a Pen Pal

Writing Podcasts

Online Writing Groups

Submission Tips

Tips for a Good Cover Letter