Facing the Ugly Truth: Your First Draft Isn’t Beautiful

As I look around Amazon at the works offered by other indie authors, I’m amazed by the huge range of quality in the writing. Just from the previews, some seem like they could easily make bestseller listings, while others need a lot of help in grammar, spelling and structure. It is this second category that is giving every indie author a bad name, and makes readers shy away from all of us. If you suspect that your book or story might need some help, but you can’t afford a professional editor, I thought I’d share with you some personal experience and tips.

I tend to fee-write just to get something down on paper. If I ponder commas, periods, semi-colons, and verb choices while I write, I’d never get anything done. As a wise man once said, you can’t edit a blank page. But I would never let anyone see a first draft; it always needs a lot of polish before it’s ready for the public. Here are some of the titles that I’ve found extremely helpful for self-editing, and I highly recommend them to fellow indies.

  1. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King.  POV, Dialog mechanics, the inevitable show vs tell, and many other issues are addressed at length. Great explanations and examples abound.
  2. Stephen King: On Writing. The first half is a memoir, but then he offers other writers a “toolbox” approach, which contains everything from grammar to narratology.
  3. The Emotion Thesaurus by Ackerman & Puglisi offers many hands on tips. This one is usually sitting on the desk as I write.  Check out all of their titles.
  4. Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall is a bargain at $2.99. Replete with weapon actions, body language for male and female characters, fighting strategies, and post battle emotions. Certainly worth a perusal.

Once you’ve applied all of this wisdom to your draft, it’s time for critique groups and beta readers to give you some feedback. Only when I’ve finished with these last concerns do I dare put something up on Amazon or B&N.  I believe every author should, as it’s the only way to defeat the “Indie-Author Stigma” that bites all of us.

Feel free to comment below with your favorite resources or ideas for indie authors.

6 thoughts on “Facing the Ugly Truth: Your First Draft Isn’t Beautiful

  1. It goes without saying that first drafts are for one’s own eyes only. And that should go for blog posts, too! Also thanks very much for the visit, “likes”, and “follow.” I look forward to seeing what you do over here, in the kitchen and out of it.


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