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You’ve been writing, editing, proofreading, and rewriting your short story, poems, or novel. At long last, you’re at the point where you feel your WIP (work in progress) is done! Pat yourself on the back, do a happy dance, get a celebratory snack—but don’t start submitting just yet. The experts at Writer’s Relief know that there’s a good chance you still have more work to do before you’re ready to submit to literary editors and agents. Use these writing tips to improve your final draft and boost your odds of getting published.
Writing Tips To Improve Your Final Draft Before You Make Submissions
Let your work sit untouched for a few days. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a crucial step to get yourself in the best headspace for editing. While some writers jump into edits the moment they’ve typed “The End,” it’s better to put the draft aside for a few days, weeks—or even longer. You’ll come back to your draft with fresh eyes and will be able to see any needed changes you didn’t notice before.
Ask someone to read through the draft. Whether you have a friend or family member who’s a grammar geek, or a standing relationship with another writer or critique partner, it’s helpful to have another reader review your draft. By the time you’ve finished a draft, you’re so close to the work that you may find it hard to remain objective, and you may miss plot holes, clunky lines, or passages begging for character development. An outside reader will notice these discrepancies and ask questions you might not have considered—but an editor or agent definitely would.
Research publishing industry guidelines for your genre. Though you should never write solely to satisfy trends, it’s also a good idea to make sure your writing is following the current publishing industry standards for length, topics, and format. No matter how strong your writing is, a literary journal editor or literary agent may simply have to pass it up if it falls too far outside the submission guidelines. If you’re writing prose, take the time to research how long pieces should be (whether they’re stories, essays, or books). If you’re writing poetry, find out whether editors are interested in rhyming poetry, prose poetry, free verse, or other forms. Knowing if your draft meets the criteria for the markets where you plan to submit will ensure you’re sending your work to the right places!
Cross your t’s, dot your i’s, and check for typos. You say you’ve proofread? Okay. Proofread again. We can’t say it enough: Proofread, proofread, proofread! Though a single spelling or grammatical error isn’t likely to make or break your draft’s chance of publication, multiple errors and typos probably will. Even if you’re a naturally gifted grammarian, it’s easy to make small mistakes or typos as you’re writing. If you’ve already proofread and aren’t finding any issues, try reading your piece aloud—you’ll be more likely to catch errors the eye flits over while reading! Again, ask someone with grammar skills to review your work for you. The Writer’s Relief proofreading experts can help.
And The Best Tip For Improving Your Final Draft…
Know when to stop. It’s tempting to keep returning to your piece to edit…and edit…and edit. Maybe you wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant new idea you want to add, or you find yourself spending days trying to reword one pivotal line. While editing your draft is always necessary, eventually you have to stop editing and start submitting.
After You’ve Submitted Your Final Draft
Once your final draft is polished and submitted, you can do another happy dance, get another cookie—and start working on your next project! Don’t sit waiting and worrying about responses. Move on to writing your next draft, and use these tips to make sure your final draft is always your very best work. Remember, the more well-written submissions you send out, the better your odds of getting your work published!
Question: What is your favorite go-to editing tip?