My First Editors

My “finished” first draft has been sitting quietly in its computer folder. I’ve been told to leave it alone for a couple of weeks. Of course, I’m itching to get back into it, and I really haven’t completely kept my hands off it.

I’m not sure what your definition of a first draft is. I think we all have different ideas on the topic. For me, just because it’s a first draft doesn’t mean it hasn’t been retouched a bit. I tinker with chapters as I go. And that’s why I put “finished” first draft in quotes. It isn’t. Finished, that is. I’ve typed “The End” but I’m not satisfied with it, even as a “shitty first draft.”

Right now, it has a total of twenty-nine chapters. My tinkering is taking place back in chapters 17, 18, and 19. Here’s why:

My critique groups.

I love my critique groups. I belong to three. Well, two and a half.

The first eyes, beyond my own, to see a chapter is my face-to-face group. Four or five of us get together and present a chapter. The author reads their own work out loud while the others follow along on their copy and mark it up with thoughts, suggestions, and observations. The feedback is immediate. Plus there’s the added benefit of reading it out loud. All sorts of boo-boos jump out at me when I hear my own words coming out of my mouth.

I should mention this group is multi-genre.

I bring my chapter home from the group and make the fixes needed.

The next eyes to see the chapter is my online mystery writers group. I post a chapter there and receive at least three critiques of it. Here’s where it gets interesting, because what one person loves about a scene, another person might hate.

The “half” part of the critique group is also online. It started out with four members and now there’s only two. But we have a nice back-and-forth commentary on our chapters.

At the moment, I’m receiving feedback from my online group on chapter 17. I’m meeting with my face-to-face group this morning to present chapter 19. They’ve already seen chapter 18, which happens to be my least favorite of the entire manuscript. I’m struggling to fix the problems sufficiently to submit it next to my online group. And to my online half-group/critique buddy.

If you’re writing a novel and don’t belong to at least one critique group, I strongly advise you to look into finding one. They’re my first editors.


Jemi Fraser said…
Crit groups/partners are such a great idea. I have 2 fantabulous crit buddies. They are so generous with their time and opinions. I hope I do the same for them in return :)

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