Baby Your First Draft

Like an infant, a manuscript needs further work.

Five months after my newest granddaughter was born, her parents continue to nurture her. Though she’s recently learned to roll over and is working on sitting, Mom and Dad know she has further potential—as do their three-year-old and almost seven-year-old.

That’s not to say they weren’t pleased when, after nine months, Lily emerged. But they know delivering a baby is only one stage of preparing a child for success.

The same applies to your book manuscript. Every week, authors celebrate completing their book. Often, what they’re saying is they’ve finished their first draft.

Unless they’re one-in-a-billion, they’ve only gotten started—if they want a manuscript worthy to enter the world of readers and publishers.

New York Times bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins urges authors to view their first draft as simply raw material—needing a skilled hand to shape into a story primed to engage readers.

I’ve attended seminars where Jenkins takes what aspiring authors view as finished work—then cuts, adds, and reworks until the page is covered with red. He does the same, he says, with each of his own manuscripts—even after decades of learning his craft.

So celebrate your first draft. Then prepare for the hard work of maturing your baby.

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About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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