When it comes to novel writing, can you create a first draft worth being proud of?
Yup. You can.
Can you write a first draft worth publishing? As in, it’s so good you don’t have to revise it at all outside of a quick proofread?
According to one writer and reader I know, the answer is yes. He knows of an author who’s been there and done that – very successfully too. Apparently, it took this guy only four query letters to find a literary agent who got him a publisher, who then signed him on for a multi-book contract.
I’m not sure how many times this author has been published at this point, but his books are all first drafts. As in he writes them. He sends them to his publisher to be proofed. And then they’re printed.
Now, I am determined to read at least one of his books one day. But, as of this point, I haven’t. So I can’t tell you from personal analysis whether they come across as being truly publishable or whether they deserve another several rounds of editing.
But let’s say the writer and reader who told me about this author is right. Let’s say this guy really can produce first drafts worth publishing.
In that case, he’s one in a million.
He might even be one in a billion.
What I’m trying to say in the nicest terms possible is this: The chances of you being like him (if he even “exists” in the first place) are so infinitesimally small that you’re wasting your time to even consider the possibility.
By the way, yes, those are the nicest terms possible.
This isn’t to say anything about you as a person, as a creative or as an intellectual. Seriously. Think about all the accomplished people, mind-blowing artists or awe-inspiring intellectuals out there.
Now think about how many of them made it on the first try.
Drawing a blank? You should be.
The Wright brothers definitely didn’t get their aircraft flying on the first shot. Nor on the second. And technically, their third try, which was successful, wasn’t even really their third try. Not when their first try wasn’t their first try. It was made after countless hours of theorizing and analyzing and revising.
Or how about someone more recent? How about Steve Jobs? Do you honestly think that Steve Jobs put together a successful Apple computer on the first try?
“Apples and oranges,” you might be saying. “They’re inventors. I’m an artist.”
True, but do you really want me to list off all the great writers who worked on draft after draft after draft before they published?
It would take way too long, and you know it.
So instead of trying to convince yourself that you’re one in a million or billion, how about you just admit that you’re a mere mortal and make sure to revise your first draft.
Then revise your second draft. And your third. And your fourth, making sure that your plot runs as smoothly as you can make it on your own, that your dialogue comes across as believably as you can make it on your own, that your setting is as engaging as you can make it on your own, and that your characters are as captivating as you can make them on your own.
Then, when you’ve reached the ends of your analytical, intellectual and creative abilities, get an editor to hone your story even further. Because it almost certainly needs a professional outside opinion even then.
I don’t care whether you have an editor in your life who will do it for free or if you find a worthwhile one to pay a reasonable amount of money. This video isn’t a gimmick for me to get more editorial clients, although I will be more than happy to give you a free half-hour edit to see if I’m a good fit for you.
Really though, I just want you to be able to publish the best possible book you can. Which always requires revision and input.
Unless you’re that one author out there who may or may not exist. I’ll keep you updated about him whenever I get around to reading one of his novels.