Anne Lamott in her wonderful book on writing, Bird by Bird, has a chapter on “Shitty First Drafts.” She advises, “All good writers write them. That’s how they wind up with good second drafts and wonderful third drafts.”
One of the best ways to create that wonderful draft is to get feedback on what you have written. Here are three ways to do it.
Join a writing group – Meeting regularly with a group of other writers is a great way to get feedback on your writing all the way through the creative process. Be aware, however, that some writing groups are really support groups for writers which celebrate whatever their members write. You’ll want to look for a group that focuses on critique if you want to get useful feedback.
Use Beta Readers – When you finish a draft ask some people to read it. It’s best that you find people who do a lot of reading in your genre, who have a strong background in literary analysis, or are fellow writers. They can help show you where your draft lacks clarity, needs detail, or grows repetitious, when characters are thin or plot points don’t work. One thing to remember when using beta readers is to give them specific questions (six or fewer is best) which focus on the specific kinds of feedback you want.
Consult a Professional Editor – There’s no substitute for professional expertise. Is your book ready or not? Should you make revisions, major or minor, before publishing? At Stories To Tell this is an inexpensive way to get feedback before investing in content editing or proofreading. We call this service a Manuscript Evaluation. To learn more about it, visit our website here.