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Sometimes I think my favorite part of the writing process is when, after months of toiling at my desk, I finally get to the point where I type in "The End," sit back in my chair, and exhale. I'm not exactly sure why I enjoy this part so much because it's not as if the hard work is done--far from it!


After you finish your first draft, there are no set rules for what to do with it next, but here's what I recommend:


1.    Let it sit for a week, then go back and read it again.


Not only will your batteries be recharged, but after time away you'll be able to look at your work with fresh eyes and make necessary changes to improve it. I'm not talking about catching typos--I mean having a hard look at things like character development, plotlines that may not flow as well as you hoped they would, or even how you chose to begin (or end) the story. It's amazing how much perspective you can get in just a few days away from your manuscript. For example, I know I've created a good character when I find myself reading an early conversation and thinking, This doesn't sound like something so and so would say, then tweaking the dialogue to make it ring true.


2.    Rewrite based on the above.


3.    Repeat steps 1 and 2 as necessary.


Once your manuscript is in a place where you can't imagine changing a thing, it's time for the next step:


4.    Send it to people you trust to be honest with you no matter how much it stings.


For me that's Terri, who is my sister Michele's mother-in-law, and Tami, my gal pal. They will read the draft and give me the honest feedback I need for another rewrite. Or two rewrites. Or three.


After the content of your manuscript is good to go, it's time for the final step:


5.    Find a proofreader who is anyone but yourself.


For me, this is my amazing mother, who always manages to find several hundred mistakes. She's like a freak of nature with the red pen.


After you've finished the above steps, your path to publication is up to you. But, you'll know that whatever route you choose, your manuscript is in good shape!


-Maria


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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.


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