Once I get done with the first draft of this novel, I’m going to print off several copies and send them out to people whose (literary) opinion I trust. Over a two-month span, it’ll be their job to read the manuscript, check to see if it makes sense, is readable, etc. For those two months, I’ll try to pound out a story or two — perhaps even start another first draft of a novel. I won’t even look at the first draft of Prodigal. I want to almost forget it’s there.
Once that period of stasis is done, I’ll pick up the manuscript and read it through, red pen in hand. I’ll edit for grammar, content and clarity. I’ll also compare my own notes to those of my readers in deciding what to change in the second draft. My work schedule for writing will change, too. Mornings will be for new projects, while afternoons will be rewrites of the completed manuscript.
Then I’ll read Prodigal through one more time — a quick polish, if you will. After that, I’ll query it to agents, who will say whether they want to see it. It’s a long, involved process. But hopefully the end will be worth it.