I’ve completed my first draft of Eastside Hedge Witch: A (Sub)Urban Fantasy. I’m happy with the story overall, but the finish is kinda soft. That’s okay. Why? Because it’s only a first draft. A first draft is the story you tell yourself, or if you’re silly like me, you post scenes from it on the internet for others to read.
When you write a book or a series, there are many ways to approach the process, but rarely are you going to write “The End” and be done. I’ve gone to conferences where authors, who have been writing for forty plus years boast that they write one clean draft and they’re done.
I roll my eyes at this kind of statement because I know I’m sitting in a room full of people who have been writing for a very short time relative to the speaker. If you’ve done anything for forty years, you’re going to be pretty darn good at it from the start. Also, one speaker had a television series name with a huge fandom slapped onto his books.
Most writers need more than one draft to get the plot, pacing, and character arcs in a place where it’s not only readable, but sellable. Believe them and not me? Try writing a story in one draft with no feedback, plop it on Amazon and see your numbers rise to less than a hundred.
If I don’t self-publish or query agents with my first draft, what should I do?
1. Once you’ve finished draft zero, read it yourself. Print a copy and just read your book as if you picked it up in the store.
2. Mark up that draft and edit. Read the revised draft out loud to catch any mistakes.
3. Ask for feedback. Where do you get feedback, especially now that most people are social distancing? https://tammydeschamps.com/2020/08/05/writing-critique-how-can-i-get-feedback-while-social-distancing/
4. Apply feedback. If you’ve got good critique partners, you’re going to have plenty of notes, and if you chose well, trust those notes. Revise.
5. Go through the process of reading, editing, again. Send it out for feedback one more time. Repeat until you have the cleanest, most readable, sellable draft you can possibly write without professional help.
You’re ready to query agents!
If you’re self-publishing, the next step is to send it off to an editor. If this is your very first novel, I highly suggest a developmental edit. Yes, your critique partners will give you some of that, but a professional editor with industry experience will have a lot more to say to polish your book. The goal is to put out the best version of your story possible. Good luck!