I’ve finally finished the latest revision of my manuscript, having sliced out 32,000 words. And while I know it’s a far better story than it was a few weeks ago, I really need to gain a fresh perspective. Now there are lots of different ways to do this. (Not including beta readers. I’m not yet ready to hand this off to anyone else.)
STEP AWAY FROM YOUR WORK
Have you ever read or edited something that you wrote so long ago you don’t even remember writing it? It’s the coolest feeling, because you get to read your writing exactly as an outsider would.
Now obviously I don’t recommend walking away from something for so long that you forget about it. But it does help to take a break for several days, or even several weeks. I know when I’m editing something over and over again, I begin to subconsciously anticipate what’s coming up: “Okay, Bobby is going to say such-and-such to Sally, and then Sally is going to smack Bobby in the head and say such-and-such back to him.” This mode of thinking dulls your reading senses, and hinders your ability to edit objectively.
PRINT THAT SUCKER OUT
I don’t know why, but for me writing feels different when I switch to reading it off of paper. The words somehow look different, and that causes them to sound different as well. Sometimes a particular word or sentence will leap out as sounding wonky, despite it never having done so from the computer screen.
GET OUT OF YOUR SEAT
Or at least move your seat into another room. I like to take my hard copy manuscript to Starbucks, because looking at strangers, a street, cars, dogs, etc. rather than the typical apartment setting I’m used to is a great way to gain new perspective. Simply being in new surroundings can help you view your writing in a new way.