This section spans the often frustrating and repetitive period which occurs between the first complete draft of your work and the final draft. In the stages of writing leading up to this period the emphasis has been upon content: getting the story down on paper. Now, once the story has been captured, the emphasis shifts onto the form of the work. This is to make sure that presentational flaws don’t mar the delivery or impact of the story itself.
In the exhilaration of completing your draft, the temptation is usually to gloss over issues of form in the rush to send your manuscript off for appraisal. This is a temptation well worth resisting. After all, what’s the point of investing so much time in the writing, and then devaluing that investment through inadequate attention to detail in the presenting? It’s a myth that spelling doesn’t matter; it’s a myth that punctuation is someone else’s job. To those who appraise manuscripts for a living, and for whom almost all of the manuscripts have been properly reviewed and presented beautifully, an unpolished manuscript appears clumsy and unprofessional.
In the metaphor of taking this leap off the precipice, getting to the edge means just that: it’s your last chance to get your manuscript in shape. The deep breath is the last one you take before you leap—there’s no time to fix your stranded semi-colons after that.
This section will look at some of the things you might want to consider when you’ve written your last page, and after celebrating the achievement, you turn your mind to getting it into the best shape possible for others to read:
- Making sure the structure of your narrative presents the best reading experience – various structural approaches deliver different effects to the way in which your story unfolds.
- After your writing skills, your reviewing skills will have the greatest impact on the quality of your final draft – patience and attention to detail matter most here.
- This section looks at some specific considerations to be aware of in reviewing your manuscript – these are areas that often cause problems or create anxiety.
- Knowing when you need exactly the right word, and then finding the right word to use – don’t underestimate the power of the right word in the right place.
- If you’re referring directly or indirectly to the work of others, you’ll need to understand the correct requirements for referencing and acknowledgements – the rule of thumb is that if in doubt, cite the reference: you can always get rid of it later.
- In some cases, if you’re wanting to include excerpts of another’s material in your narrative, you’ll first need to seek the permission of the copyright owner – sometimes this is way more difficult than it should be, but necessary nevertheless.
This part of your writing task is relatively straightforward. There’s nothing really difficult. You’ll still encounter problems and be driven to making decisions, but those decisions, by and large, won’t make you lose sleep. The comma here, or the comma there? Those kinds of decisions.
And finally, the surprise benefit you receive from undertaking this part of the task thoroughly and conscientiously is that you become a better writer. For free.
If you find that the material presented doesn’t quite answer your question, ask a writer.
Finally, we’ve also collected a number of other helpful links which you might find useful to access.