I call it the rule of 10, during my writing adventures I have realized that I have to go through every fiction story I write ten times before it’s ready for any kind of submission. When I first started playing around with pen and paper I would get so excited that I wanted to share my work with everyone around me, but I was doing myself a disservice. No story is ready after the first, second, or even third draft, no matter how good of a writer you are.
So I have resolved to read through and edit each of my stories ten times before I will even allow myself to consider it ready. This may seem extraneous to some people, but it is helping me a lot. I’m on my seventh go through of my novel and my word count keeps going up which is good for me because I’m a to the point person and have to slow myself down to paint an accurate picture while expanding each story with good dialogue. Lately my finished product barely resembles that of my first draft and I consider that a good thing. Nobody, nowhere nohow should ever read the crap that is one of my first drafts. My poor husband can attest to that as he graciously reads anything I ask him to, though he is the true writer in our family.
When I went back to school I had a great English Comp professor who always emphasized the importance of not getting married to your work. She went into great detail on this subject since a lot of people can easily interpret it in various different ways. Her best example was losing a publishing deal when she refused to change some of her book for publication. Big no no. You have to be open to the fact that the idea of your story is not always what you’re going to get in the finished product. Once you embrace this your writing will take on a life of its own and really breath for readers. I’m finally starting to get it now! Then come publishers who can contort you work to fit a style that is more marketable for a wider audience. Sure a lot of us don’t write for the money, but at the end of the day it would be nice to be able to keep a roof over your head and maybe put some food in your belly.
One of the sites that I frequent, http://www.quantummuse.com, is all about critiquing the work of other writers and vice versa before they even consider you for publication. It is a good start for anyone wanting to build up spec fic writing credits, and the best part of all is reading other people’s work. You get really good at editing your own stories and figuring out what fits and what doesn’t when you experience the success and failure of other writers. I have definitely popped out some bad ones myself, that’s part of the process. You take the bad and learn from them so that you can create more of the good. And if you go through ten drafts before you submit, you are more likely to get published. I’m definitely no expert, but I am learning immensely.