First Draft

Big Red Car here on an early Thursday. Hope you are well. God help the Carolinas.

Much of life is about getting beyond its first draft. A writer develops a first draft subject to a lot of self-editing and then sends it to a professional editor.

That editor will undertake the following Stations of the Cross:

 1. Three developmental edits focused on ensuring the story is really a story and that it contains a theme, a plot, a story arc, interesting characters good and bad, tons of conflict, a conflict resolution and a denouement.

Each time the editor finishes their edit, the writer will revise the piece. It looks like this: “BRC REV after DE 1” meaning this is the BRC’s revision of the editor’s first developmental edit.

 2. When the developmental edits are finished, then the editor will go through a copy edit looking for grammar changes. This is going from a rake to a comb.

 3. When the CE is finished, the editor will make a final proofread.

 4. Happy with the final story, the writer will mark it “FINAL” and send it out to be considered by publishers.

 5. The publisher will likely repeat the entire process — publishers’ editors can be extraordinarily good.

In this manner, the story goes from a lump of wet, unformed clay to a bit of fine, elegant china by iterative edits.

Business planning and running a business can benefit from this mindset.

First Draft of business plan

When you are creating a business plan – Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Project Plan – attack the writing in much the same manner – write it, developmental edits, revisions, copy edit, proofread.

In this manner you will also create another benefit, your team — the ones who participate in the editing process, in particular — will get the plan and have its fingerprints on the murder weapon of its refinement.

They will also take ownership of every one of their revisions to the plan thereby making the plan a baby with multiple godparents.

This is a subtle and sophisticated way to get the team on board.

The challenge for the CEO or the plan author is to prevent the process from becoming an unending debate which continuously resets to the starting line with every draft. In a story, the setting, the characters, the conflict are set even though the plot may be flexible and fluid.

You want the right pieces of the plan to be moving while keeping the guardrails in place to ensure the movement is forward rather than to the sides, tangential, or backwards.

You will get the feel of it as you do it. Follow your instincts.

There is also nothing wrong with doing it quickly. When writing, the time to edit is a function of the complexity and length of the story. The entire process for a 5,000 word short story may take less than three days with the editor and the author emailing edits and revisions back and forth.

Every plan is a story. Be a storyteller.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.