It’s a bit drafty in here.
With NaNoWriMo ending yesterday, I thought it might be the right time to talk about first drafts. And please, NaNo folks, remember that what you’ve just finished is most likely a first draft. You’ll want to take another few hard looks at it before you start sending it to agents or publishers — 23-year-old me, who likes to make your mistakes for you so you don’t have to, begs you to do so.
Anywho, first drafts. They run the gamut from “Hey, this is pretty good!” to “Good Lord, this is fucking awful!” Sometimes they come across as a pretty complete story and need only minor tweaks and edits before they’re ready to go, but sometimes they’re barely readable (I mean, look at 200 Days, for crap’s sake). So how do you know when they’ve gotten out of first-draft status and are in the correct shape for other human eyes to see them?
Well, I’m probably not the best person in the world to opine on that one. For the past two years, I’ve been writing my first drafts online, putting them right out there as they pop out of my head. But that does give me feedback from actual person-units, and that feedback has informed a lot of what I do in editing. So, while you might not want to just throw your first draft up on the cold, unforgiving Internets and say “have at it,” a decent idea might be a troupe of beta readers — people you trust to give you an honest critique who can read the thing after you’ve drafted it a few times.
And, of course, take criticism in the spirit it’s intended. I know we writers tend to get emotional about our stuff, but at the end of it all, these people are trying to help.
So what about you, friends? How many drafts do you do? Are your first drafts as near-unreadable as mine?
Also, anyone (apart from Heather and Nate, who are already on the list) want to get in on the beta-read for the 47 Echo sequel?