People often think that once an author types "The End" that their work is done. But it's not.
From the first word typed to the last, an author has learned so much more about their characters than what they knew when they began. This is generally true for both writers who plot everything out before they start and those who just sit down and write. It takes time to get to know the many aspects of your characters just as it takes time to get to know a friend. Intellectually knowing your characters ahead of time is different than seeing them in action and interacting with the other characters.
I just turned in the final draft of a novella and am now starting the final-ish revision of a novel that is due next week.
So what does it look like when I go through this final edit? I print off a copy of my manuscript and sit down with a colored pen in hand and a notebook to take notes as I go. I'll note people's eye and hair color to make sure I haven't accidentally changed those over time. I'll note places I need to mention something later in the book that got dropped or something that needs to be mentioned earlier in the book to set it up for later. I note secondary characters' name to make sure they are the same throughout and spelled the same. I note little things I want to add at another point in the story but don't want to hunt it down so I can keep reading.
I will read through this print copy several times depending on how much time I have. I like to read for one specific thing each time I read through it. One time, I might focus on dialogue, another the setting, another wardrobe, another flow, etc.
When I've put all my changes and correction into the computer copy, I read through it again for typos. Then off it goes to the publisher and my author's work is done. Not.
The content edits come back from the editor that I have to go through and fix stuff throughout the manuscript and make revisions to make the story more readable. After that there is the line edit stage and the galley proofing stage.
So from beginning to end, I probably read each page 8-20 times.
Award-winning novelist MARY DAVIS has over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She is a member of ACFW and active in two critique groups. Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. She has three adult children and on grandchild.