I just finished the first draft of my first novel. I was wondering if you had any tips on seconds drafts. What do you usually focus on and look for when you rework your first drafts?

First of all, congratulations!  Finishing an entire novel is something to be proud of.

I have developed a process through several books.  This is what I do:

1. I put away the MS for at least two weeks (usually 3-4 weeks).  It is tempting, but I don’t look at it at all.  Then, I go through and do a quick clean up.  This is mostly catching missing words and horrible typos.  Writing at 3:00 AM always provides some humorous errors (sell phone instead of cell phone…or the scandalous: pubic instead of public…yeah, that happened).

2. It is at this point I hand a hard-copy of the MS over to some trusted beta readers.  Their job is to give me general content comments.  How is the pacing? Is it confusing anywhere? I specifically ask them to poke holes in anything they can.  I try to make sure that I give it to both male and female beta readers.  My readers are usually teachers, but I specifically pick non-English teachers,as well as, English teachers. You need math/science people that can look at your work from a different angle.

3. While I am getting feedback from my beta readers, I start working through word choice, clarifications, and tone.

4. I do not cut anything until I get to the third draft.   I will often color code something I am thinking about cutting, but I hold off.  Sometimes the items I am thinking about cutting end up being moved or inspire something else.  Also when cutting, keep extras in mind.

I usually have four to five drafts, plus proofreading for each novel.

I have more tips and free resources on my website here:

Hope this helps.  I am happy to answer any other questions you have.

Blessings and good luck!