by Tammy Plunkett
You can’t just write your shitty first draft and send it off to the publisher. It’s right there in the title: it is a shitty first draft. That means it needs some revising, then a second draft and a third and maybe even a fourth draft as many drafts as you need to polish it and ready it for the world to see.
Trust me, I understand the excitement of writing “The End” after your first draft. The anticipation of putting your book out into the world is intoxicating. There’s a massive wave of contentment that washes over you as you realize that you have finally finished. It is something to celebrate when you write a whole book. You’re so excited that you want to scream it from the rooftops.
But, you are not done. You are far from done. It has been said that writing is 20% of the work, and revisions are 80% of the work.
Are you a writer or a re-writer?
Some people slog through getting that first draft out. It’s painful to write every sentence. And then they get to the editing, and they are in heaven. They excel at rearranging sentences, fixing the language, and adding layers of emotion, introspection layers, and description layers.
Some people love the first draft of part of writing because it’s the part where they get to make stuff up. They don’t always know how it’s going to end. They are writing the book for themselves as much as everyone else, so they breeze through the first draft and hate every single moment of editing. I’ve heard them say that they really can’t be bothered with editing because they know the story’s ending. It means revisiting something that they’ve already seen and revisiting and revisiting again and again.
You can write the first draft and hand it off to someone else and never have to look at it again. However, you will pay dearly for the amount of editing that needs to happen if you pay for someone to go through the 2nd, 3rd and 4th edits. If you don’t have all of the money in the world, you will want to do your revisions to make your 2nd and 3rd and 4th draft shine.
Here are things to look for when you are writing your second draft:
Do you have enough description? Have you set the scene?
Are you using weasel words such a ‘very’ and ‘really’ instead of more substantial synonyms. For example, very cold is frigid, very hot is smouldering. I often search and find words such as like, so or amazing.
Check that you write active sentences such as this one. Versus a passive one such as “make sure that your sentences are well constructed.”
Finally, suppose you are launching a career from your book, our Big Sky Author Services expertise. In that case, you want to make sure that each of your chapters or sections has a call to action. In addition, you want to seed into your book how clients can work with you in the future.
You are ready for editing once you complete your final draft. If you are seeking traditional publishers, it’s time to pitch your manuscript. If you are going the self-publishing route, it’s time to hire an editor. A structural editor (also known as a developmental editor or a substantive editor) makes sure that your book is structurally sound. A copy editor then checks for spelling mistakes, grammar, and sentence structure.
Whether you are just starting your first draft or polishing up your final draft, we are here to help! Drop us a line if you have any questions.