I'm going over the latest draft of my manuscript, and I'll be perfectly honest with you - I'm getting a little sick of it. So then I'm wondering, "Is that right? Shouldn't I love it?" But to read the same thing over and over again can get tiresome for even the best novels, I bet. I can imagine Stephen King begrudgingly pulling up a chair to re-read The Stand for the hundredth time hoping that Carrie puts him out of his misery. I can't imagine it gets any easier when you have an editor watching over you and waiting for a final draft by Friday and it's three o'clock in the morning.
So here's a simple list to help me get through this that I thought I'd share with you:
1) Get a little outside views. Now granted, your test readers may get just as sick of the manuscript as you are, so try to vary it up a bit. But whomever you get to read your manuscript I'd suggest you ask very specific questions: Is the voice clear? Is the objective and obstacle clear? Was there suspense or did you know what was going to happen? That kinda thing. Otherwise, you'll likely get a "it was good" or "I loved it!" response. Nice, but not helpful.
2) Remember one thing as told to me by the great William Goldman (of "The Princess Bride" fame): No writer EVER likes his own writing. You may think there are parts that are really good, but you may find more parts that you just don't feel great about. That's normal. Don't shoot for "perfection" when revising, shoot for "the best you can", because you'll always find flaws.
3) Don't drive yourself mad with long, olympic style marathons. Take a break when the words start blurring together. You may actually end up missing more than you want if you press on.
4) I like to print out revisions to review them for one simple reason: I want to read them like a reader would, meaning if I have a question I can turn back a page or two and remind myself what happened. Sometimes in doing that I'll see inconsistencies in the story or something I've already mentioned get mentioned two pages later. Unnecessary words.
Remember, a novel is a big beast. There's a lot of words there to navigate, and sometimes as your boat rocks on the waves you may miss something floating by. Try to calm the waters and keep a keen eye out for things that don't make sense, repetitions, your writer 'tics', and so on. It won't be long before you'll have a clean manuscript ready for submission and can dock that boat for a well-deserved rest!
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