So I’ve Finished Another First Draft…Now What?


Yup! That’s how I feel when I’ve finally made it to the end of another story.

But what happens now?

Every author has their own process they go through. I thought I’d see if I could pinpoint how I get from the thrill of finishing that first draft to nearing the point of publication.


It certainly is quite a transformation.

But here’s my must-do list.

  1. Delete any and all unnecessary description that slows flow. I often ask myself: Does my reader really care about this little bit of info? Make them feel like they’re in the scene and move on.
  2. Combine sentences to show/tell the same thing in one rather than three while still maintaining a balance of short and long sentences.
  3. Watch out for info dumping and delete unnecessary parts that neither mean something to the plot nor move the story forward. This is the time to be ruthless. Murder those darlings!


4. Search for cliches and ditch them. Be original.

5. Search for overused words. I have a slew of those suckers that creep into my stories.

6. Check all those ideas and thoughts that I hopped out of the shower to jot down in the notes section of my phone. Add in and fix per the list of Things-To-Do-For-BookXYZ.

7. Read the story out loud. How does it sound? Does it flow? Do my characters sound like real people? The story should sound as natural as it would if you were sitting at a pub with your bestie and simply telling her the story.


8. Rewrites and edits—no matter how many passes it takes—are a must.


9. Tackle opening sentences of each chapter. Same goes for mini-cliffhangers or some sort of exciting news at the end of each chapter. I really do want to keep my readers turning pages.

10. Let it sit. This is a must for me. When I let my manuscript sit for a week to a month, the time away from the story gives my brain a break. And my brain works in very unusual ways. After time, I no longer have sentences memorized. I find out if a scene is funny, or sad, or just terribly bad. At this point, I also find issues I missed because I was too close to the story. Once, I wrote an entire chapter that rhymed. What? Yup. I had no clue I’d done it. Some days I talk in rhyme without even thinking. Told you my brain is strange.

11. Read. Read. Read. If I don’t move on to another story while BookXYZ is sitting, I read.


AND EAT! I tend to forget the importance of nutrition.

12. Shout the news that I’ve got another story for my beta reader(s) to critique. Then pray that they’ll tell me the truth.


13. Give it all another go… one more time… giving the story everything I’ve got left in me.


14. Write for me, not for sales!


15. Celebrate the accomplishment. After all, writing a story is not an easy task!

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few other things I do along the way.

What steps do you go though? I’d love to hear about them.

10 thoughts on “So I’ve Finished Another First Draft…Now What?

  1. “Check all those ideas and thoughts that I hopped out of the shower to jot down in the notes section of my phone.” I do exactly the same thing! Showers are great for inspiration.
    All those steps…now I know why your books are so well crafted.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks. 🙂 There’s just something about the shower!
      BTW…Congrats on your recent release of A BABY FOR EASTER, Susan! And as always, thanks for stopping by!! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Jackie, you said, “Once, I wrote an entire chapter that rhymed.” Must be the poet coming out in you. 🙂 For those who think writing is easy, they only have to read your post and how thorough you are. Thanks for the great post and reminders!

    Liked by 2 people

    • And to think of all the research that goes in well before we even get to this stage.
      Nope. Writing is not easy! Let’s not even talk about all the rules. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m an odd duck. I edit as I go along. It makes for a looooong haul between Chapter One and The End, but when I reach it, I put the story away for about a week or so, catch up on real life and reading, then go back for one or two passes and it’s off to my beta readers. Step #7 of yours though is a must-do. So many times I find a repetitive word or a real clunker just by reading out loud. Congrats on the new story! Best of luck with the edit process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You can bet I edit as I go along too, Gina. As a perfectionist, I haven’t figured out how to throw down words and move on, but I’m working on that. And now I’m excited to have my story for the Christmas boxed set done! 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by.


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