Create a file on your computer or get a spiral notebook that you label with your book's name and keep notes inside.
Now it's time to re-read and catch glitches in the plot or mis-spellings or missing words or impossible feats by characters or…. The list can go on and on. If you make a change that you know will affect a future event in the book, make a note in your file or in your notebook since you know you'll have to change things later on in the book. Take care as you stack up the pieces of your book.
Be on the lookout for pet words used over and over. You probably won't even know you're using them unless you search for them. If you do a search and find for, say, weeping, and find that you’ve used it eight times, that may be too many times. Find another word or way of saying what you want to convey to the reader. You can also use "search" to make sure you didn't make a mistake. Did you say the bad guy's shirt was pink or red? Do a search on each word. You'll be able to determine which color you used as well as determine that you didn't slip up and call it some other color.
Don't hop from one character's head to another. Stick with one character either for the entire book or for long sections. Readers can get lost if they're in Susan's head, then they jump to Jack's thoughts, then they're suddenly back in Susan's head or maybe Harold's head. And pretty soon the reader is putting down the book and picking up another.
Think about how you can define a character without listing traits or describing him/her in detail. One way is how that character talks. Does he talk like everyone else? Does he use contractions and slang? Does he, for example, say MickieD's instead of McDonald's? Does he speak without using contractions? For example, does he say, Let us go to McDonald's. Or does he say, Let's go to McDonald's. One way to help define a foreigner is to have them not use contractions.
Helen Ginger is an author, blogger, and writing coach. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn. Helen is the author of three books in TSTC Publishing’s TechCareers series, the novel Angel Sometimes, and two of her short stories can be found in the anthology, The Corner Cafe. Her next book, Dismembering the Past, is due out in Summer 2014.