I’m currently polishing up the final draft of my novel-in-progress, the sequel to Deadtown. And there’s no such thing as a quick polish. It takes time and attention to get things right.
What do I do in this draft? I try to trim words and look for sentences and scenes I could cut. I watch out for places where I need to fill in a bit of description (just because I can see a character or setting in my head, for example, doesn’t mean I’ve put it clearly on the page). I check dialogue to see if it’s necessary, if it sounds natural, if it needs a “beat” or two to break up long speeches and keep readers in touch with visual or other imagery while characters are talking.
In short, I look for anything that throws me out of a scene and try to fix whatever did that. It could be something as small as the wrong word or as big as a digression or explanation that slows things down. Making a scene “flow” means removing anything that tosses the reader out of that scene.
I enjoy polishing. It’s fun to be immersed in my almost-there novel. I’m reading it from a triple perspective: reader, editor, and author. When a scene is working, the reader’s perspective takes over and it’s just plain fun to read. The more that happens, the closer I am to being done.
Of course, “done” is a relative term. I’ll be doing this all over again when my editor sends me her editorial letter in a few months.