‘The majority of published writers I have known write first drafts that are riddled with craft errors and embarrassingly bad writing compared to the version that finally sees print. They know that writing is truly rewriting.’ – Sol Stein.
‘A successful book is not made up of what is in it, but what is left out of it’ – Mark Twain.
I have never heard of anyone’s first draft being perfect, and no doubt your first draft won’t be perfect either, which means you have to edit. Editing is an essential part of every writers job. We edit to make our stories better, and you will go through a lot of drafts before you feel your story is good enough to send out on submission. Every writer is different, but I think you should consider at least doing five drafts.
Once you have done a fair amount of drafts, I suggest you print out your manuscript and go over the printed copy. There is no use printing out your manuscript after early drafts when you still have to do a lot of rewriting, it would be a waste of time and you would just be making more work for yourself. I suggesting printing it out when your are happy with your plot and you are up to the line editing stage. I always find a lot of mistakes that I’ve missed when reading on the computer. If you don’t have a printer at home and need to go to a copy place, and especially if you have a big page count, printing your manuscript off may cost a bit. To save a bit of money, you can make a copy of your story on the computer and then change your line spacing from 2 down to 1.5 or 1. This will reduce your page count and the cost to print. Though if you go for single line spacing there won’t be much room for changes.
I suggest marking the changes in red pen so that you can see them. Another thing I have found helpful is to mark the beginning of each of the lines you made changes in with an arrow so you don’t miss any of the changes when you are typing up the changes you found onto your computer. It can be easy to over look an added comma or the like even if it is done in red, putting an arrow at the beginning of the line as you make the changes will ensure you won’t miss that change.
Also, reading your work out loud helps you with the flow of your story, to see if any parts are jilted or not, and whether the dialogue sounds realistic.
Getting someone you trust to read your work is also a good idea because they will be able to pick up mistakes that you’ve missed.
Editing may be daunting, and it is hard work, but is necessary. No matter what some people think, writing a book isn’t easy. Publishes want you to submit a near perfect manuscript, and the above few tips will help you catch as many mistakes as you can.