After writing the first draft of your story, read through it from beginning to end to look for any glaring errors, such as grammar, facts, flow, etc.  You undoubtedly will have reread each section and chapter several times by this point, which is perfectly fine.  Make any changes that you feel that need to be modified such as grammar, facts within the story, etc.  Then set your book aside for several months (3 months minimum without looking at it or thinking about it). You may even want to begin writing a new book to get your mind off of this project.  Setting aside your book helps you look at your writing from a more objective perspective.

When it is time to pick up your book again, track any changes you make with different colors (or font/note/pen colors).  This allows you to back track if you change your mind.  Evaluate the following:

  • List of characters — list the characters as they are introduced to the reader and how they are introduced.  Include descriptions about them (names, appearances, behaviors, temperaments, primary traits, etc.).  Keep to the basic information (1-2 paragraphs); don’t rewrite your book.
  • Time line — outline the basic events of your story as they appear, chapter by chapter, and how they appear chronologically in time.
  • Plot outline — list the basic plot line, subplots, motivations, events and devices as they appear in your story.
  • Geographic locations — list the location and time it takes to travel from one point to another (if travel time is an important aspect of your story).  You may even want to create a map.
  • Emotional connections — list where you use emotional connections with your reader.  One of the most important elements of genre writing is being able to connect to the reader.  If the reader can relate to your characters they’ll be more invested in the story.  Evaluate each story element to see if it touches the appropriate emotions for its genre.

Remove any unimportant story elements that don’t contribute to the purpose of the story.  Be clear with your story and your words; say exactly what you mean & don’t be vague.  Check your facts.  Research whether they are realistic and accurate.

When it is time to ask others for feedback, you may want to solicit opinions from others.  A good rule of thumb is to have someone who regularly reads this type of genre to review it; someone who primarily reads romance novels may not provide useful or even accurate feedback.  Some basic questions to ask might be:

  • Did you like the characters?
  • Which characters did you like or not like?
  • Were there any spots in the story that you found boring or slow?
  • Were there places that were confusing or unclear (time, place, setting, characters)?
  • Any conflicting character traits and actions?