One of my past posts was about writing your first draft. My advice to new writers was to just begin writing and not worry about editing until you had everything down. And this is great advice, but it isn’t how my first draft goes.
Now the way I write will certainly not work for everyone, but I thought I would throw it out there as another option for those writers working on their first draft. Instead of waiting until the first draft is finished to begin editing, I have someone else reading and making suggestions as I go. That person is my husband.
So here is how it works. I usually write a few chapters. I go back and re-read them but don’t usually mess with them too much. I am mainly making sure the sentences are complete and make some sort of sense. I then give those chapters to my husband to read while I continue writing.
My husband will write comments about things that don’t make sense or areas needing improvement. I then take his comments and type them into the appropriate sections (highlighting them so I can find them again). If it is something really simple to change, I sometimes make the changes right away. When I have time (i.e. I get writers block or can’t get motivated to work), I go back and start changing the story based on what he noted.
I find it helpful to do this as I write because there is no use writing the whole thing if the story needs to go in a different direction. This saves me from having to re-write entire sections or from throwing out pages of my novel that no longer match my goal.
Or it means I correct a problem before it gets too big to easily fix later. An example would be on my current WIP Finding Alexandria. The main character has visions when she touches certain people. When my husband read the first vision, he said it was not clear when the vision ended and the current situation continued. It was an easy fix but one I would rather know about now than have to go back and hope to find every vision and repair it. Now, I just remember each time a vision occurs that I need to make it clear to the reader when it is over.
Using this method means that by the time I am done with my first draft, my story really has been gone over at least twice. Instead of my second read through being one where I cut out scenes, I use it as a time to tighten up my novel with less to rework.
Now I know this method won’t work for many authors. One, you have to be willing to let someone read your WIP when it is in a very rough stage. To be able to use this method, you have to accept criticism and comments about your work all the while knowing that you are NOT done with it. And, two, you have to have someone who understands that this is ROUGH. That it is a first draft and that the final story will not look probably anything alike. Luckily for me, I have already found that person.