First Draft…Now What?
Over 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.
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.