Monday, December 4, 2017

Don't Show Your Drafts

As a writer, I am very excited about new projects or ideas when they hit me. I want to tell the world about the new idea I had about the guy who did the the thing with the girl and they had a fight and then she killed him and then she ran across the state to get to Mexico and she ran into the sheriff from Texas who tracked her all the way and...

See how it looks? One big ol' long sentence. That is a huge rough draft of something I just threw together while writing this post. And it sucks big time. Don't show the 1st draft.

In some of the Facebook groups I am a member of, people show their first drafts and they say, "this is my first draft... what do you think? Don't show your 2nd draft.
Hold on to your work until you polished it, cleaned it, trimmed the fat a little and dressed it up before showing it off. Don't show the 3rd draft.

What new parent dresses up their new-born baby in rags and dirty diapers when they leave the house to show off her to the family? Don't show the 5th draft.

For writers, our manuscript IS our baby. We invest a lot of time, energy, sweat and tears into our work and when we are ready to show the world our new baby, she needs to be dressed up her Sunday best so the whole world can see her. Don't show the 10th draft.

We want our baby to be perfect. We want the time line just right, the facts all checked, the energy level peaking at the right moment for the climax, and the motions to be high. Don't show the 17th draft.

A photographer friend once told me, and I think the wisdom can be extrapolated to a writer as well, but he said: "The difference between a professional photographer and an amateur one is the amateur photographer shows you all of their pictures; the professional one shows you only their best shots."

So take that to hart, only show off your best work. Don't show the 20th draft. Edit it and rewrite it as many times as you need until you have the most perfect version of what you are writing, so when you do show it off, it will be publish-ready. SHOW ONLY YOUR FINAL DRAFT.

James Patterson has TV commercials on quite often and they are not commercials about something he is working on. The commercials are about his finished work, his final draft, his already sent to the publisher, finished book. We need to listen to that practice and take it and run with it.

Only show your best work.

See you on the shelf.

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