As has been previously established, drafting is not my forte. Revision is. Sadly, one cannot revise what one has not yet - you know - drafted. Welcome to my purgatory.
Once I have a POS (Yes, I could have titled this 'polishing the turd'. I didn't. You're welcome.) draft in hand, I patch holes. My drafts are usually a jigsaw puzzle of scenes without transitions betwixt them. Mostly, the scenes are in order. Though, it's not unheard of for the bits to get shuffled in service to the story and conflict. The point for this pass through the MS is to connect all the dots so the story reads from beginning to end.
Stage 1 Check List:
- Does story flow from beginnng to end
- Is there a story arc
- Can conflict be intensified
- Does it make sense
Stage 2 Check List:
- Are character arcs as strong as they could be
- Do the characters sound like themselves
- Would anyone REALLY say what I had that character say
- What would be more fun, more conflict, more unintentionally revealing in any given bit of text I'm obsessing over
Stage 3 Check List:
- Beta readers/critique group
- Read the work aloud in the company of a solid crit group - no really - reading aloud is where your repeated words will hit you over the head if your crit group doesn't
- Reading aloud, mark your characters' physical gestures - how often does he rub a hand down his face, how often does she roll her eyes - fix that. There are more physical manifestations of emotional state than are dreamt of in my tiny drafting vocabulary. Try out a few.
- Take a break. A day. A week. Longer if deadlines permit, but let the work sit. Encourage the words to dribble out of head. Then reread. Not aloud. Just read. Watch the typos and the repeated words jump out at you. Fix.
Here's where I admit I'll never catch everything. This is why there are editors - professional, objective eyes paid to point out where a story doesn't communicate as clearly as it could. So that's the point that I bundle up that MS and ship it. And subsequently and immediately find a slew of typos, repeated words and other mistakes that I missed before shipping.