Happy Little Mistakes

I've heard other authors who have said they don't submit a new piece to their critique group until they've completed at least one edit of the rough draft. While I'm definitely of the mind that authors should do what works best for them, I think they may be missing out on an opportunity.

With only one exception that I can think of, I submit nothing but rough drafts for critique. The primary reason for this is because I don't always get all of my thoughts out onto the page in a way that is coherent to anyone other than me. Another reason is because I tend to incredibly simplify most things, and there is a need to elaborate. It's easier for me to know when that is based on what others experience when reading my work.

But probably the primary reason I submit rough drafts is because of the opportunity it creates for me to brainstorm ideas and take pieces in directions I hadn't thought of before. The most recent example of this would be a novella that I am working on. Now, I did break my Prime Directive in that I made some changes to the rough draft before submitting it. However, that created a situation where a character who shouldn't know something actually did. I didn't catch it until it was pointed out to me, and I started thinking about the possibilities.

And then, while driving the other day the reason for that knowledge slammed into my brain with such clarity. Amorphous plot details for the climax of the book suddenly took shape, and that happy little mistake I had made in chapter one of a rough draft suddenly became a pivotal point for the end. I can safely say that I don't believe that would have happened if I hadn't submitted the rough draft to a group of people who are keen readers.

So, if you're the type to polish and polish before letting others read, I would encourage you to take a chance once in a while to give them the rough draft. You just might find yourself pleasantly surprised with the results.