Some who write dread the first draft. I have friends who write and describe the first draft as a plane soaring to the sky only to repeatedly stall in midair. The terrifying sense of doom—an imminent crash— is ever present, only to abate when the wind beneath their wings picks up again.
Not me. First drafts are intense and immensely absorbing. Entering the world of another time, another place, or another person, is a joy. I operate under the illusion that I am taking my riders, er, readers, along with me.
That is until the first draft is finished and my read-through & minor fixes done. Time passes, another read-through and a few more issues solved. Then another clean-up, and it’s time to let another reader in.
Here come my betas, the most generous helpers imaginable, plowing through my mess. I rely on their giving souls to tell me if the ride was as illuminating and exhilarating as I thought it was. I share with one at a time, correcting the manuscript with each feedback, hoping to spare the next reader a few more typos and wrong turns. Actually, I’m hoping there are few things to correct, but remind myself that every suggestion is a pearl disguised as an oyster.
Days/weeks later, and the first feedback comes. Ouch. But okay, I can fix that, and this, and the other thing.
Second Beta feedback. Ouch—Ouch. Why is it so different from the first? Because it is a different reader, duh. Okay, not the end of the world. I can deal with it.
I limit this first beta round to two or three readers maximum. Too many co-pilots will crash a plane; sadly we all know this by now. The goal is a good landing.