First and foremost, I had the pleasure of guest blogging about Harry Potter on the awesome Lyn Midnight’s blog yesterday. Considering it was my FIRST GUEST POST EVER, the feedback was truly humbling. I also learned that guest posting is fun and I would TOTALLY do it again. YAY GUEST POSTING!
SO. Now that I got that out. On to today’s blog post!
I made a mistake when approaching my very first read-through with my very first manuscript. I made this same mistake more than a couple of times with later manuscripts, too.
Now, now, I know that doesn’t seem so bad, but hear me out. I wasn’t just editing during my first read-through I was *shudder* line-editing. You know. Like you do to the final, polishing drafts.
It’s not that I didn’t know you were supposed to tackle the big things first—I knew that. But I had a pen in my hand and a stack of paper on my lap and the temptation was just too much. I saw something I didn’t like. I marked it up with my pen. I thought I did a good thing.
What I didn’t realize was that I might as well have carved out the final details to a rock. I forgot about the big things—the characters that needed tweaking, the scenes that needed cutting, the situations that sounded a million times better in my head that needed COMPLETE re-writing. Instead I was fixing awkward sentences and descriptions I didn’t like.
Then—even worse—I was moving on like it was ready for betas.
GOOD NEWS is I now see the error of my ways and vow to NEVER do that again. *phew!* I also decided to write a blog post about it to warn you awesome people about this trap. The first read-through is not a place for line edits.
Let me say that again: the first read-through is NOT a place for line edits. DON’T DO IT.
I’ve developed a method for myself to make sure I don’t fall into it again. It’s simple, really, and it acts as a laser crossbow to that tricksy little trap. TAKE THAT! HEE-YAH!
Eh-hem. For the first read-through I now keep a notebook and a pencil beside me. When I see something that needs fixing (and I DON’T mean an awkward sentence, that’s for later edits so RESIST, MY CHILDREN, RESIST!) I write it down in my notebook. I make a running list. See how long I can make it. The longer the better, really, because it means I’m being nitpicky which is what I want when I’m picking apart my WIP.
Because in the end, each fixed bullet point will make the new draft THAT much better.
SO! When you’re reading that shiny new WIP for the first time, remember to look out for the BIG problems. The characters that need fleshing out and the evil plot that upon second glance is actually a little bit ridiculous. Yeah, those bad boys. They need a butt-kicking first.
Then you can worry about making that manuscript sparkle.
Have you ever fallen into the line-editing trap? What tips do you have for the first read-through?