I that I wasn't going to get into the nuts and bolts of good writing. If you have a burning idea and have started to transform it, you probably know the ins and outs already.
Moreover, there are about a gazillion stellar writing books out there by the experts. So if you need technical advice, head to Amazon or or wherever you buy books, and get some advice!
So let's say your 80,000 words are finished. The plot is complete, the characters developed, the masterpiece created. You have probably read each and every one of those words an average of twenty times, which is as it should be; but the loving care you've shown your MS can also bite you when you're not looking.
You've read it so many times that your eyes can easily overlook the silliest typo (I was revising last night and found that I had missed a "Julia and I" when it should have been "Julia and me"... HORRORS!!).
This is where you ask your friend/spouse/sister/cousin to read your MS for you. Especially if you're lacking a professional editor, you need another set of eyes. You'll be shocked at how your friend (Beta Reader) will find better ways to organize your sentences, cut your word count, and alleviate the dreaded misspelled words (and we all have them!).
Upload your project to Staples or Office Max and have them print it - costs about $20. Then give the whole stack to your friend and let him/her pick it apart for the stuff you missed. Trust me, it's helpful.
You want to see how your story reads to another, even if that person is your biggest fan. Give them time- it's harder than just reading a book, because they have to flip back and make sure your details match.
My particular Beta Reader is as meticulous as the day is long, and doesn't hesitate to point out where I've messed up (and no, you can't have her- she's mine!).
Don't nag your Reader- use the downtime to research publishing options (that's another post) or start a new project.
When your friend is finished, you can revise according to their notes, and then revise again. And again. If you feel your MS needs it, repeat the process with another reader. Or hire a service- there are loads of them online and will do a full MS for $100-200. Make sure it's as perfect as you can make it.
How will you know when it's perfect??
Next week I'll address that very question.