1. Use the right amount of dialogue
Using too little or not enough dialogue can hurt the flow of your writing. It's important to have an equal amount of narration and dialogue in order to fully grasp the personalities of the characters and to enhance the plot of the story. When you're editing your manuscript, try to ask yourself if the conversation between your characters is full and complete, or if there's anything that you can add or subtract to make the dialogue more meaningful or thorough.
It's also very important to make sure you're writing dialogue properly. There are quite a few rules when it comes to the proper grammar and punctuation behind dialogue, so do some research to make sure you've got it down!
2. Character development will make or break your story
One of the most important parts of a story is character development. It is vital for your story! The difference between static and dynamic characters is that static characters stay the same throughout, while dynamic characters change. What's the point of reading a novel where the main character is a snobby brat from beginning to end? Readers enjoy seeing the change in your characters. Not only does it add dimension to the novel, but it brings your characters to life.
While planning your novel out, take a minute to focus on your characters. Ask yourself who they are in the beginning, and who you want them to be by the end of the book. Figure out how your major plot points will shape them into becoming that person.
3. Edit the hell out of your manuscript
Once you finish writing your manuscript, then it's time to edit!
Read through your entire manuscript a few times and ask yourself if there's anything missing in the plot. Any plot holes? Anything you think would be beneficial to add or subtract? After fixing any plot holes or technicalities, then read through the entire thing again. Make sure it flows. Double check what you've added or subtracted. From there, you can begin focusing on grammar and punctuation. Are there any spelling errors? Grammatical errors? Issues with punctuation? It will take a few read-throughs to ensure that you've caught all the errors. And even then, you'll need someone else to read it and check it for you. It's always beneficial to have a fresh set of eyes to tell you if there's any issues with details, plot, character development, or grammar. After all, when you write, YOU know what you mean, but do other people know what you mean? Having editors and beta readers will help you point out any weaknesses and strengthen your manuscript.
At this point, you should've read through the ENTIRE manuscript from FRONT TO BACK a good four to five times.
When I first finished "Forever Burn," I read through it, fixed any quick grammar errors that I found and wrote down a few scenes that needed to be fixed or added, then went back and did so. After that, I read through the entire thing again to ensure that the new scenes fit well. Then I sent it to my first editor. When she was done with it, I went through all of her notes. She left some very beneficial notes that were vital in strengthening my manuscript. Most of them were things that I didn't catch or didn't think of on my own to add. After taking her notes into consideration and doing what she suggested, I reread the entire manuscript again before sending it to my second editor. After she read it, I fixed many of the things that she suggested, then read it again. Afterwards, I read the entire thing FIVE more times. From beginning to end. I read the whole manuscript all the way through nine whole times before entering the publication process. Each read through was beneficial. I caught errors every single time, and kept reading through it until I couldn't find any more.
I edited it until I was sick and tired of looking at it. But overall, it was worth it!
4. Make sure everything flows properly
This goes hand in hand with editing. It's super important to make sure everything flows properly. If the reader can't understand what's going on, then they won't be as invested in the story. Be clear with the when and where the story is taking place. If one second, it's hot out and it's July, then all of the sudden, it's in the bleak of December, the reader is going to be extremely confused. Focus on creating a proper timeline within your story, one that will make sense with the plot and won't leave readers confused.
5. Know your audience!
Knowing your audience is ESSENTIAL for your manuscript. If you're writing a YA novel, then make sure you're using appropriate language and situations for that age group. If you're writing an adult novel, then the language will most likely be more advanced and mature.
On top of writing appropriate language and content for your age group, keep in mind what your theme is. Theme is such a key factor in your overall novel, so don't let it get lost in the story. Choose a theme that's relevant for your age group and stick with it throughout your writing process.