When you’ve put your first draft away for at least a little while and then come back to it ready to edit and work on improving it yourself, this is your second draft. It’s the part before you seek outside assistance and you’re still trying to work on it yourself.
Read your manuscript through, try to view it as a reader might and make notes or small changes as you go. Take note of anything that needs changing, needs more work, more description. Note any inconsistencies in the plot. Anywhere where the pacing drags, or moves too quickly. Any details you want to be stronger, or things you want to tone down. Any parts that are unnecessary that you can cut or things you want to add. Also keep an eye on the flow of your sentences. It helps to read out loud so you can hear it.
Start by improving your opening. Make sure it’s engaging and starts at the right spot, which means where the story gets going. Smooth out any awkward sentences you find, make sure the voice of your narrator is consistent and interesting, fill in descriptions, and cut out extraneous details. Add foreshadowing where necessary.
Don’t worry about changing too much or too little. You have your older version. Don’t be afraid to re-write things. Generally speaking, it will always be getting better, not worse. But even if you feel you’ve made a mistake, you have the old copy to look back on. Just dive in and re-work it. Don’t be afraid, there’s always the next draft if something needs more work.
When you’re finished with your second draft, you need to make a decision. Do you let it sit again and then work on a third draft, or have you done all you can on your own? If so, it’s time to find some beta readers or just someone you trust to read through it and give you some feedback. There’s no set formula on how many drafts it might take you. Go over your work as many times as you feel necessary until you feel its as good as it is going to get or until you’ve realized you’ve done as much as you can on your own.
Thanks for reading!