Yesterday I finished off the final edits for my fourth romantic suspense with The Wild Rose Press, called Relentless, and sent it off to my editor. Feels great to have it done! My critique partner was a big help, and she's pointed out on several occasions that I intrude on the story with my own author voice from time to time. Bad Kaylea!
In the final pass, I always try to add as many of the five senses as I can to make the writing more vivid. Smell and taste are the ones I most commonly neglect during the drafting phase. Then, I always look for phrases beginning with "It was", or "There was/were", since they denote passive language and most of the time can be rephrased. Another biggie is "which", and most of the time that can be replaced with "that", or ommitted entirely.
Catching little inconsistencies is the toughest part at this stage, since I've been deeply into the story for months, so that's why it's so important for a fresh pair of eyes to take a look for those. Hence my fabulous critique partner, whom I have no doubt will be a NYT bestselling author someday soon.
Mistakes I've noticed a lot of new authors make is adding too many dialogue tags, or using too many adjectives with them. For example, "Why can't you just leave me alone?" she yelled angrily, can be reworded as, "Why can't you just leave me alone!" We get that she's yelling both from the exclamation point and the itallics, and by her words I think it's pretty clear she's ticked off. Try to make sure your dialogue is uncluttered, and only qualify how a character says something if it's important or can't be conveyed by the words they're speaking.
Last check--typos! You know the ones... Your instead of you're, their instead of there. I could go on. They're tricky to catch if you're doing your fourth or fifth pass through the manuscript. As the author, your eyes tend to skip over these little guys unless you take my advice and read the thing out loud. Your family might look at you strangely, but it really works. Promise!
So after I did all of these last minute things, I submitted the novel off into the ether. Hope my editor likes it!
What techniques do you use when doing the final polish on a manuscript?
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