I love being in that writing space when the words just flow. Sometimes it feels as if these characters given birth to by my brain have taken on a full life of their own and want to tell their own story.
And I'm cool with that. I know they usually do a better job than I do of defining their relationships and pulling all the loose plot ends together.
I have learned one thing, though. During the first draft, I send my inner critic on a paid vacation and let everything pour onto the paper. Then I set it aside for a few weeks.
When I'm ready to start editing and revising my work, I humbly ask my inner critic to come home and take over the process--and she is more than happy to do so. These eight steps she insists on following add strength and clarity to my fiction manuscripts. Maybe they will help yours, too.
1. Use a timeline. I use a piece of notebook paper, but one of my best friends who writes epics gets an entire roll of brown packing paper, spreads it out across the living room floor, and goes to town. A timeline can help you figure out what happens when in the story. If you jump around from scene to scene like I do, it can help you avoid embarrassing mistakes like Cousin Matilda, who tragically perished in an accident on Halloween, calmly joining the family for Christmas dinner.