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Thursday
Jul272017

First Steps

QUESTION: What are some of the first steps you take once you have a body of work you want to hopefully publish?

The first thing to do, let’s say once you have a completed manuscript, is nothing. NOTHING. What I mean by that is you absolutely, 100%, in no way, should expect to send your manuscript out in its current form. The biggest mistake that aspiring authors make, in my opinion, is thinking that their work is done, when it really has only just started. 

Now.

What do I mean by that? I mean that you should expect to revise this manuscript, I don’t know, somewhere between three and seven times before sending it out. Really. Don’t think that you are the exception to this rule. There’s a mistake that plagues new (and veteran) writers, and that mistake is thinking that what you have written is brilliant, full stop. This is not me being discouraging but trust me when I say that said work is not brilliant just yet. No author, ever, in the history of authors, has ever written a first draft that was good enough to publish. For perspective, I have now written seven novels, and every single one of them has gone through five-plus drafts - usually at least seven. With my new one, out in January, I deleted SEVENTY-FIVE percent of the first draft. And then (lucky me!), I deleted SEVENTY-FIVE percent of the second draft. In what is now the final book, very little, very, very, very little of my original manuscript remains.

So.

The first thing I recommend doing is taking a breather – even just a week away from your manuscript, then diving back in and finding places where you ramble, where you can amp up the action, where you have shoved shortcuts into the plot because they helped you get to a specific ending, and now they feel cheap. Take another crack at it with fresh eyes. If you have a critique partner or a writing group, get it to them. Listen to their feedback. Rip apart your draft. Make it better.

Then do that at least one or two more times.

After that, you’re ready for the next steps. :) (Which is probably what you were really asking about in the first place, but I’ll get to that in the next post!)

Good luck!

Reader Comments (1)

Oh LAWD I cannot tell you how often I have walked away from my *obviously brilliant* work for a week or two and come back to find it somehow morphed into something trite and awful and cringe-worthy. It's amazing how much a single piece can change that much in a short amount of time!

-kf

August 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKasey Ferris
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