Second Draft Writing Critiques?

Imagine this scenario: You invite a small group of friends over for dinner. You prepare an elaborate meal for them, and you all have a great time eating, laughing, and talking together. Your friends are also cooks, so they give you tips and suggestions for how the food might be improved. The next day, you invite them over for dinner again…

…and you serve them the leftovers from the previous meal. Sure, you may have added a few extra spices based on their suggestions or an additional side dish or two, but basically your friends will be eating the same meal they just finished the day before.

You probably wouldn’t do that. If you did, your friends probably wouldn’t be very excited about it.

So what about the second draft of your manuscript? Is it fair to give the second draft right back to the same writers’ group that just finished reading and critiquing the first draft? If they were getting paid to edit your work, that might be different, but suppose they are just friends and volunteers?

This is not a hypothetical question for me at the moment. John and I finally finished writing the first draft of our latest manuscript. Now the rewriting will begin. As every author knows, rewriting is often as important as writing. I expect to complete at least one more draft, perhaps two or three, before the manuscript is ready for its final review.

Do I ask my fellow writers at Emerald Cove to review the second draft of Prophecy’s Malignant Son? I’ve never had a problem asking them to review multiple drafts of the short stories for the group anthologies (Kidnapped! and Stolen!), but that seems a little different. First of all, reviewing a second draft of a short story takes a lot less time and work. Second, my fellow authors have a personal interest in making sure that all the anthology stories are well written, because those stories will appear alongside their own writing.

The second draft of a novel of 100,000+ words, however, is a far different matter. The latest manuscript was written so quickly that a couple of the Emerald Cove reviewers are still completing their critiques of the first draft. It will seem like a “revolving door” if I hand them a second draft so soon after they complete the first review.

After giving the matter some thought, I am considering a couple of strategies for the second review:

  1. Ask my fellow Emerald Cove authors to reread only the chapters which contain major changes. I already have an excellent editor lined up to review the final version and catch all the typos, so I am more concerned with making sure the revisions from the first draft are successful;
  2. Find readers outside of Emerald Cove to review the second draft. This may prove a little more difficult, but it would be nice to have input on the story from people who have never read it before.
  3. Beg and plead with my dear friends to take a second look at the entire book. Well, all right, I probably won’t have to grovel too much. They are friends, after all. Hmmm…I wonder if bribery will work? Maybe, once the pandemic is finished, I can invite them over for an elaborate meal…and NOT serve them leftovers.

No matter what I decide in terms of the second review, it is great to be done with the first draft! I feel like I have just reached the top of the mountain peak, and can now enjoy the scenery on the way back down the trail.

Talk to you next Friday!

Susan 3/19/2021

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