Blog Series

Reading Through Your Manuscript for the First Time

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So, you just finished your first draft.

How are you feeling right now?




Terrified by the idea you just spent weeks of your life on something that might have been a giant waste of time?

Alright, alright. Calm down. Remember you just wrote a book. You’re amazing.

Now comes the time to read this brand new book you’ve brought into the world, and see your vision from beginning to end for the first time.

How To Write A Novel: First Read-Through:

Once you’ve completed your manuscript you’re probably going to be exhausted. You’ve just spent countless hours crafting new worlds and realities. I’d recommend taking at least a day off before you dive back into your work.

A week or more would be ideal. Give yourself a nice long pause from your story so that you start to forget it. The more of the story you let fade away before the first read-through, the easier it will be to spot inconsistencies and plot-holes.

Our minds have a way of piecing together information for us, and you could be filling in the missing pieces of your story without even realizing it. (Basically, your mind is lying to you and saying something makes sense even if it really doesn’t.)

A Warning Before You Proceed:

First drafts are terrible. Stephen King writes terrible first drafts, J.K. Rowling writes terrible first drafts, Danielle Steele writes terrible first drafts.

Your first draft is going to be terrible.

But it won’t stay that way. Do not get discouraged! Even if the work ahead seems daunting, hold on to the knowledge you’ll have your very own not-terrible book someday soon.

Now the fun part:

It’s time to do the thing all writers love to do: Read!

I can usually finish reading my books within a day, but take a weekend if you need to.

Get a notebook and pen, some water, and curl up somewhere comfy.

Read your book from beginning to end, with as few breaks as possible.

Only write down the giant glaring errors. Do not worry about grammar, punctuation, or anything like that. There will be plenty more read-throughs to fix those mistakes. The first read-through is just to take in your story as a whole completed idea for the first time. Try to enjoy it! You’ve just accomplished something amazing.

When you have finished the first read-through, put your list of notes aside, these will be the first issues you’ll tackle when you start your first edit.

More in the How To Write A Novel Series:


Character Development

World Development




Do you have a special process or procedure for your first read-through? Let me know in the comments!

12 thoughts on “Reading Through Your Manuscript for the First Time”

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