Your 2nd Draft: Self Editing Strategies

Step one is your read through. The first time you go through your story, or novel, start to finish, cover to cover, doing nothing but taking notes while looking at it through the eyes of a reader.

This can be harder said than done. You’ve poured hours of work into a first draft. You wrestled with characters, the almost never ending question of “what happens next?” and have gotten through draft one only to be staring at it, now, and knowing you’ll need to make some very difficult decisions to ‘kill your darlings’.

Brace yourself. The first time you attempt a second draft it is going to be hard to let go. For some authors, it might never be easy, but you’ll build up callouses.

But, this first read through is all yours.

So, to help look at it with the eyes of a reader, there are a few methods that I’ve seen suggested over the years:

  • Print the whole thing out – which, if you do, make sure you do it with page numbers.
  • Take your draft to Kinkos or Staples and order a spiral bound version.
  • Read it in as different a format as possible – like on an Ereader – to achieve that extra distance to really feel like a ‘reader’ versus the writer who strung those words together.

Whichever method you end up using – and don’t be afraid to try all of them, or to come up with your own – the whole point is to be able to be as distant as you’re able to be before moving forward.

How about you? Have any tips or tricks on how to get into the reader mindset before you start working on your 2nd draft? Post them in the comments!

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