Upon completion of the first draft, writers then need to refine their work by re-writing what's already on the page. Here are some tips to help the process.
Writing a novel can be difficult enough. But once the first draft is finished, writers should be prepared to go through the novel again and re-write once, twice, even a dozen times in order to help the novel reach a point where it's publishable. Very few writers can put together one draft of a novel and expect it to be of a quality that's high enough for it to compete with other novels on the shelves at the bookstore.
Print Your Manuscript
Just like the older generation of writers who had to edit on pages that came from a typewriter, modern writers should get into the habit of printing off their manuscripts so they can sit down and read the first draft like an editor would. The detachment from the computer will also keep writers' eyes from getting sore.
Cut 10 Percent From Your Novel
This is a pretty basic step and is by no means a concrete rule every writer needs to follow. But it's worth trying because it teaches writers to take the difficult step of cutting writing out of their work. This can be a hard thing to do for writers, because everything has a tendency to feel like it belongs in the novel. But once a writer gets into the habit of cutting 10 percent, it becomes easier in the future to run a red pen through the text.
Focus on Dialogue
In the real world, people don't have the ability to re-write dialogue they've already spoken. But in a novel, writers have the ability to go through dialogue and perfect it. Examine the dialogue and make sure it serves the greater purpose of the novel. It should have a reason for being in the novel, since the narrator is reporting it to the reader. Re-write some of the dialogue and see how it feels. Try to extend a conversation beyond what's already been written. Writers may find that by stretching out conversations, they'll happen upon something that feels like it belongs more than something from the first draft.
Keep an Eye on Details
Re-writing details can help writers focus the image they have in their heads so the reader can see clearly what's happening in the fictional world. Oftentimes, the first draft contains details of a scene or event that can either be fixed up or replaced entirely with more specific details. Reading over a manuscript provides writers with a fresh look at what they've written, which means being critical of the draft can oftentimes provide fantastic results.
If, in the first draft, a writer has described the clouds outside as "rolling gray hills" but later on an important even takes place inside a stuffy house in the middle of winter, the writer could change the earlier description of the clouds to "fluffy gray blankets." The change creates foreshadowing of things to come.
Adjust the Plot
The plot doesn't need to stay in place from draft to draft. In fact, it probably shouldn't. Whenever possible, writers should get into the habit of re-writing the plot from draft to draft in order to tighten it to the point that it's flawless. That means answering questions that pop up while reading through the draft. It also means adjusting characters and situations to ensure that they're all consistent with each other.