The Final Draft
You've long since finished your first draft and the rewriting process is complete. Now, it's time to work on the final draft of your writing project.
Truly, working on the final draft is an exciting time for any author. Like a marathon runner, the end of the race is nearing and you know that all your hard work is going to pay off soon.
At this point, your article, novel, short story, or essay's elements are intact, but you need to make the last adjustments to your piece. Below, we'll examine a few of the ways you can add polish before turning in your document to your editor, supervisor, or publisher.
Spell CheckNothing detracts from a manuscript more than a misspelled word. Too many writers rely solely on their computer software to "catch" spelling errors; however, nothing beats the human eye. (Keep a dictionary handy!)
Similarly, make sure that any individual or company names are spelled correctly. Sources will not be pleased if their names or the names of their organisations are wrong.
GrammarAt this point in your writing process, grammatical mistakes should be few, but that's no reason to assume that they couldn't possibly occur. Examine your sentence structure throughout the document and make adjustments where necessary.
Word CountIf you are expected to turn in an 800-word article and you currently have 1,400 words, you need to use the final draft process as a time to remove any extraneous materials. Though you may be hesitant to delete sections of your piece, it's better to do it yourself than to have an editor put your work aside because it didn't match his or her needs. (If you truly cannot bring yourself to make deletions, give your editor a call and find out if a longer article would fit his or her needs.)
Fact CheckingIf your essay includes sources, websites, or quotes, you will want to make sure they are accurate before handing in your assignment. Though most magazines and newspapers have fact checkers on staff, do it yourself first. After all, your name will be on the article; would you want it to be associated with something less than accurate?
Source InformationSome editors will request that all source information (for fact checking purposes) be included when you hand in your final draft. Make sure you provide your editor with any data, including website addresses, telephone numbers, and book titles.
Style CheckThe style you should use will differ depending on the publication for which you're writing and the type of product you're submitting. If you're not familiar with the various styles, it's worth it to purchase a book to ensure that your document follows the requested format and isn't rejected on a technicality.
FlowGive your document the once-over to ensure that it flows from beginning to end. If you feel too "close" to do so, ask a trusted friend or colleague to read it as a favour to you. At this point, it should be tight; if it's not, go back and make adjustments where necessary.
After your final draft has been cleaned, sanded, and freshly lacquered, it's time for the moment of truth. Print it out, attach it to an email, or fax it. Breathe a sigh of relief, get a cup of coffee or tea, and start working on your next assignment.