Over the holidays, I finished up the first draft of my newest story, and realized when I was done that people tend to have misconceptions about those preliminary versions. There’s a lot of expectations and assumptions that readers and authors can sometimes feel as they read a work in progress. I thought it might be a good idea to try and help clear some of those up.
Myth: Readers will fill the gaps on their own
Truth: If there’s something confusing about your draft, which in all likelihood there will be, readers won’t know where you were going. And that’s okay. Sometimes these questions can prompt new ideas of how to fix a hole.
Myth: You’ve written characters as deeply as you can
Truth: The amount of time you put into creating these characters was well worth it. But readers will probably suggest you go deeper. Maybe with your MC, a sidekick or perhaps everyone.
Myth: The plot is exactly as it will be
Truth: Traditionally, the backbone of your plot will remain the same from start to finish. Along the way, readers will help you build up the meat and details to create something you may not have seen coming in the first draft.
Myth: Problems my readers find are bad
Truth: When you have people reading your story, they are seeking out what works and what doesn’t work. When they come to something that isn’t working, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s a great thing! Now you don’t have to stumble around unsure of what needs help.
Myth: As the author, you can see the whole picture.
Truth: Writers should be well aware that they are the closest individual to their story. As such, summaries, queries, blurbs, and yes, even the first draft can be difficult to properly assess. It helps to step back so you can try to view it better.
What myths about drafts have you heard or experienced? How did the truth help moving forward?