It takes 3 drafts to expose your manuscript’s gold
Writing a book is the best and worst of times.
Your creativity is on dripping off your fingertips, your concepts are throbbing to come alive, you can see your book sitting on the bookstore shelves tantalizing readers to taste its allure.
And then there are the aching, searing, muddy times when you stare at the blank screen/page/wall, waiting…alone.
Don’t wait! Don’t ache! Step outta the mud and into the love.
Just write it. Write about aching and waiting. Make your character ache and wait. Or write about how your boss or lover or fix-it person made you ache and wait until there was no love left between you. Talk about how waiting and aching is as hard as pulling your boot out of the sucking mud of a bad relationship.
The greatest beauty of author first drafts is that they’re filled with stuff the author must get out of their heart and head before they can rest. It doesn’t matter if they’re writing about cooking or surgery, an author’s first draft is — for them — their most essential.
The other beauty of first drafts is: NO EDITING. Take your finger off that highlighter! Leave words and sentences as they are until your first draft is fully written and ready to morph into a reader-friendly second draft.
Where first drafts are all about the writer/author, second drafts are to make your reader want more, more, more.
Second drafts are where you make love to the people turning the pages of your book.
You make it easy for them to accept your tantalizing message by streamlining your sentences so they’re easy to read.
First drafts become second drafts with good editing. No matter how many times you’ve gone over and over and over your manuscript, it’s still a first draft until a professional editor with a cold eye sees where the magic is hidden, the character incomplete, the structure needs rearranging, the language tier should adjust.
Professional editing is to good book reading what lotion is to lovemaking. Make it so smooth, readers slide from page to page until they finally turn the last one and say, “Aaaaah, so good.”
Third drafts are book-industry climaxes.
Books need to sell. To be salable, they have to not only be intriguing and read well, they need to get into the hands of book-industry movers and shakers. But if your book isn’t wearing the right clothes and presenting its best side, literary agents and acquisition editors aren’t going to look twice.
Agents and editors are like bartenders: they lubricate connection. They get your book into the places where it’s noticed and purchased and promoted. They can be the extra olive in the martini that hooks you up with a traditional publisher, or they can just spill all your work into the not-taking-a-chance wastebasket and look for someone more appealing.
Third drafts are for the book industry. Your manuscript’s third draft makes sure current industry formatting standards are met. Agents/editors want to see cover pages, tables of contents with clickable page numbers, double-spaced text, proper heading and subheadings, or an author’s experiences that give them the authority to make claims in a nonfiction title.
Your refined, edited, and presentable manuscript is your luscious love letter to the world.