Never Make Your First Draft Your Final Draft!

You have just completed the first draft of your book, and it is ready to be uploaded to the specific e-book website. You are about to press the button for it to be published…

WARNING! STOP! DO NOT PROCEED ANY FURTHER!

Slide for blog post

Slide for blog post

This is something which seems obvious at first glance, but the more that one writes, the more essential this becomes in retrospect. Presenting a first draft as one’s final draft is a mistake in many ways, for a number of reasons. The story, first and foremost, is not yet ready for final uploading as it has not undergone what I would say is its refining. I find it generally very helpful if I write the first draft of a book, to back away from it. The distance, and time away from the particular book is something the writer needs in order to get their bearings, and really ‘make sense’ of the story on which they are working. If one does not do this, then the story is really being short-changed, and the writer robbed of opportunities to explore certain elements to their greatest capacity.

When the writer returns to the story after a period of, say, weeks, or even a few days, questions will begin to be posed that were not obvious when the story was first written. Maybe some parts of the story are rushed and need to be fleshed out more. Something that seems confusing to you as a writer will no doubt be confusing to the reader, and it is good to eliminate as many inconsistencies and continuity lapses as soon as possible. Adding a character or several may be something else which provides depth and realism to your book. In addition, having a beta reader during this process also assists in highlighting deficiencies which can be corrected by a second reader.

These are just some of the things one might miss out on by releasing their book before it is really ready. Spelling mistakes are another feature of writing that writers stew over. I myself have found that I have uploaded a work which I thought was perfect, but once it is up for the world to see, I find a spelling error! I have found it extremely helpful to make a PDF of my work after I have uploaded, and check it for errors. Maybe the ‘security valve’ of having the book released makes us more open to spelling mistakes, and getting rid of these as soon as we can is a good feeling!

I have briefly summarized some points about why not to release your book before it, and you the writer, are really ready, which I hope has been of benefit. I think the general message is that we should take time with our writing, as it is, after all, an organic process, and not lose the opportunity to showcase our works to their best.

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4 thoughts on “Never Make Your First Draft Your Final Draft!

  1. Do some people really publish their first drafts??? I’m appalled!!! I spend amost as long the rewriting – for a full length novel I reckon 3 months for the first draft, 2-3 months for the redrafts; I do about 7. You’re so right about leaving it for a while, stepping away. Good advice, Marcia! x

    • Thank you so much Terry! It’s something that’s been on my mind for a while now. I thought hypothetically if I released one of my books in their initial state I would be hysterical – they would not be fit for public consumption in any manner! When I do the re-edits, I find gaps, things I don’t like that need to be corrected etc, and if the book was released in this state, it would be horrific! I agree with you about the timeframes you mentioned, which are fascinating to know. That’s a very good timeline for the completion of the project, very realistic.

      We need the time away to refine the book, to have it in the best possible state before readers get to it. One thing I detest is uploading a book, and then finding a mistake once it’s available! At least it’s easy to correct if it happens!

      As an example for a timeframe, a novella for which I recently wrote the rough draft, it took a month to write 23,000 words, and I’ve let it go for a few weeks while working on the final two books (novelettes) for the year. I will get back to it soon as I hope to have it out in February 2016, but in the meanwhile, more scenes may need writing etc…it’s a fun process! Some shorter stories come together quicker, others take more time, it really depends on what life itself can throw in the way at the most inopportune moments!

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