First Draft…Now What?

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First Draft…Now What?

reflectionOver on Scribophile, a writer finished his first draft and asked for help.  He worried that his story read more like a screen play than a novel because it had so much dialog.  Not only that, he let his wife read it.  And she laughed at some of his lines.

Yikes.

First things first…divorce her.  What a B****!

Seriously, who needs help like that?   Never let anyone read your first draft…except you…ever.  Why?  Because zillions of SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar) mistakes call it home.  But more importantly, it probably doesn’t tell the story you wanted to tell.  So why set yourself up for hurt, anguish and self-doubt.  Heaven knows that writers have plenty of that before we even start.

Second, get ready for a long, hard journey.  Stephen King can turn out a book a year.  He spends about three months turning out a first draft.  Guess what he does for the other nine months?  Yippers…editing and revising.

Here’s how I responded to our struggling writer.

I’m so happy that you finished your WIP.  Be very, very proud of what you’ve done…something few try for…and so very, very few ever do.  Woooo hoooo.  Now, get ready for the hard part…turning it into something people will want to read.  If you are asking where I went from my first draft, here’s what I did.

1.  I waited ten weeks to read my WIP the first time.  Go read books in your genre.

2.  I printed out my story and read it.  I Compared it to stories I liked…and the story I wanted to write.  I marked what I liked and didn’t like, and ideas that popped up.  But no editing.

3.  I made a plan to fix the story line and character arcs.

4.  First revision – Fixed my plot and cut a third of my words

5.  Second revision – Fixed the scene types

6.  Third revision – Fixed character arcs & characterization.

7.  First round of beta readers

8.  Fourth revision – fixed beta stuff, then edited like crazy.

9.  Second round of beta readers

10.  I don’t know yet.

So…get to work.

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2 thoughts on “First Draft…Now What?

  1. I’ve read some writer’s work that they claim took them years and years to write, and I’ve read other writer’s work they insist that they wrote and edited the whole thing in just a couple months, yet both books were traditionally published and fairly good. So, is it really necessary to spend years and years on one book? Does a writer really need to wait so long before revision? I think it’s more a question of what is your writing process. Some people write fast, some slow, some people do a lot of re-writing and pre-writing in their head. None of it is right or wrong, it’s just a matter of what works best for you as a writer.

    • Thank you so much for taking time to read my post. I will feel happy for a week. 🙂

      Is it necessary to spend years writing a story? I don’t know. I had so much to learn, and it took me a long time. I’m hoping I can write my next one faster because I have so many I want to write.

      As to waiting to start revisions, yes, I think it helped me. I was far to close to my story. While I suspected the flaws, I couldn’t see them. But after ten weeks, I saw it with fresh eyes and never had a clearer look than that single time. It was precious and shouldn’t be wasted.

      Find out what works for you and then write your heart and soul into your next story. 🙂

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