1. Dekuyper
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    Dekuyper New Member

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    First Draft?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dekuyper, Feb 11, 2016.

    I've spent the last week or writing the first draft of my novel / novella.

    Not entirely sure how long it will turn out to be.

    The original story that was in my head has been almost completely decimated and it has now changed into something else.

    It's making me think that the first draft is pretty much just getting something on the paper. Something to mould.

    The first time I ironed a shirt, I had to go over it several times before all the creases were removed. I wonder how many drafts a novel takes?
     
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  2. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    Welcome Dekuyper!

    That's how I see first drafts too: a prototype. For me, it's basically the story that I tell myself. I allow a bit of whimsy and fun in it, but also keeping it hard and challenging for my characters (where's the fun in making it easy for them?). There will be mistakes and errors in it, but that's fine.

    Like what you've said, you are molding it into the story that it can be and that will reach out to other readers. The first draft was for you, the second draft for others. It's where you rein in the structure of the story, sculpt your characters, unearth the underlying theme, etc.

    I'm not sure how many drafts it will take to get the story to where you want it to be, but you eventually need to let go. For me, I'm aiming for three or four drafts. Other established writers go for this Goldilocks amount, but there are other established writers that go double digits.
     
  3. Dekuyper
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    Dekuyper New Member

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    I can see that many drafts, and maybe more, for my story also.

    Surely the fun part is the "sculpting process."

    Thank you for your welcome as well. You're really friendly.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not sure that there is an exact answer to that question...how many drafts it takes to get a novel ready for readers. Each writer is different, but it's more than one.

    For me, it generally is about 8 passes, then my publisher's editor, then proofing the galley. So for me, on average with my novels, it's about 10.

    What works for me isn't necessarily what will work for you, but it's very important to get that first draft finished. It's a real accomplishment and will give you a boost to go back at it.

    After the first draft, I revise, with major focuses.

    The first revision (2nd draft) for example, I work to catch plot holes need fixing and plot tangents that need redirected repair or removal. Yes, if I see other mistakes, like grammar or typos, I fix them. I also make notes of what needs done in future passes.

    I will work on dialogue, giving characters their voice and cadence in speech, proper wording for example. I will work on pacing and wording, and I will work on descriptions and then spelling, grammar and punctuation.

    Then it goes to readers, and I evaluate their comments and input. Then I listen to it (use text to voice) and make corrections. Another read...then it goes to my publisher...to see if its something they're interested in. If it is, it gets assigned an editor. I get their edits/suggestions and work from there. Then the galley that needs proofing before going into publication. Actually, after publication, I sometimes get to listen to and approve the audiobook version, and when that happens, I get to 'edit' minor things again, if I find it necessary.

    Just hang in there and get that first draft finished, realizing it doesn't have to be perfect the first time through.
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I read somewhere recently (can't remember where, so can't give credit) that a first draft is all about getting your ideas down on paper. Or the computer equivalent, of course.

    What a first draft is NOT is a polished performance. The polish comes much later on, after the overall structure proves to be sound, the characters believable and engaging, the plot works, the conversations between characters feel 'real,' interesting settings are in place and so forth.

    I hope you really enjoy finishing your draft, @Dekuyper. Then beaver into the editing stages. Writing is risk-free. Anything you do 'wrong' you can correct. Follow your heart and head, and let your story evolve, as you've been doing. It's a lot of fun! :)
     
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  6. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    HA! BTDT. What is interesting is that it usually winds up being superior to my original vision. Best wishes that it does the same for you.

    To your question, I apparently am different from most. I write my first draft from a pretty strong preconceived idea of what I want a scene to be (or chapter, or sometimes just a string of dialog). I should explain that I often have run through scenes in my head multiple times before putting them down. I 'play' them in the shower, or while I'm driving down the highway, or walking. I weed out a lot of things and tweak others before I actually write. Once typed out, I usually only make one pass at major revisions, then a second and possibly third to fix technical/grammar errors and tweak the odd sentence. After that its off to a beta reader for a critique. From their notes I'll do a final pass and call it done.

    Of the three books I've written thus far the first one was the most difficult to do. I think the hardest part is slashing paragraphs or even complete chapters. That first book I realized that the first chapter was unnecessary, as much as I liked it. Chopped it to make the book start with a much better hook. Can't say I miss it now, but it was a tough decision to make at the time. Listen to your gut; it will usually tell you when something is wrong.
     
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  7. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really like TWErvin2's post, wish he went a little deeper into how his eight drafts differ. It would be nice to understand the order of fixes that most would apply for each draft. TWErvin2's 2nd draft cleaning up major focuses such as plot holes, etc. seems logical. It sounded like he then works on character's voice in the next draft but I am not clear if he lumps in the pacing and wording or if those are targets for later drafts. Obviously each writer will have their own method but for my mind it would seem that doing things in a certain order would reduce the effort, e.g. why clean up dialogue in a particular paragraph if you remove it later? I really found it interesting that he has beta(?) readers look at it before he listens to it with a text to speech program.
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tonguetied,

    I really can't give you a specific order, because each novel has been a little different.
    Some of the later passes are just to catch anything I see that's off, while making fixes I'd noted earlier.

    One thing I try to avoid is making major changes late in the process, because pulling something out or adding something major in will cause a ripple effect, requiring modifications in scenes, dialogue, descriptions, character motivations and more. And then those changes may require other changes.

    That's why I do put the plot holes and tangents as a priority early on.

    I also have a process in the first draft where I review/edit/revise what I accomplished the previous writing session, and then add new words. The next session, I review what I did last session, revising and editing, before adding new words. It helps with a cleaner first draft and also by revising what I wrote, it gets me back into the 'action' or 'mindset' of the story. Also, I often think about the scenes or chapters I recently write, like while driving home from work...thinking if there's a problem, or if I can make them better, and making sure they're accurate to what when before and what is to come. This gets even more complex with a series...multiple books with recurring characters in the same world/setting.

    And, as always, what works for me may not even remotely be something that is beneficial to the next writer.

    Hope that clarifies it (my process) some.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I certainly agree about the ripple effect. I've only written one novel, but the danger of pulling a single thread that unravels the whole garment is a problem with revising.

    My story has been heavily research-based, and I sometimes wake in a cold sweat, hoping to GOD that I haven't missed some tiny little fact that will render the whole thing unbelievable. It helps that I wrote about stuff I already knew a lot about (social history of the settling of the American west) so I found that while bits needed tweaking, nothing was too far off base to correct without ruining the story. (Yet!) But yikes.

    I also think it's important to go through the MS multiple times, each time with a different focus in mind. You might think you're saving time by trying to do everything at once: plugging plot holes, tweaking research, dumping tangents, altering the pace of scenes, building better transitions between scenes and chapters, beefing up (or toning down) the dialogue, looking for formatting errors, eliminating over-use of certain words, polishing up the prose, etc etc—all in one fell swoop? You're not. Instead, you will lose the threads of what you're doing. The danger is you'll actually overlook something important—or mess up something vital—because you're so immersed in little details.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
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  10. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Different writers follow different processes, but especially for beginning writers I think multiple drafts make lots of sense - by the time you get to the end of the book you'll probably hate the way you were writing at the start!
     
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  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The first draft of my first novel bears hardly any resemblance to the finished product. But it was by no means a waste of time - I couldn't have finished the novel without it. I needed to go through each step, understanding what wasn't working and how to fix it. In comparison, my second is a breeze and isn't going to require a full re-write or anywhere near as much editing.

    It gets easier!
     
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  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That's the fun of writing the first draft, seeing where you story takes you. My story started out as your typical 'epic war' type fantasy, but it swiftly molded itself into something entirely different. The first draft is just you throwing all the things on the paper as you work out what it is your story's actually about. How many drafts? It depends, but the danger here is falling into the Perfectionist Trap, where you are stuck in a constant, never ending loop of editing and re-editing the draft. Eventually, you have to say, "This story is done; I've done all I could to improve it."
     
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  13. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Six and counting for me. :)
     
  14. Wolf Daemon
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    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    If you are me: One.

    I don't much believe in multiple drafts (at least not for prose). Although I go over and fix minuscule things in my book I don't believe in a need to rewrite it and feel that if you right it the best you can the first time there is no need to go over it again.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It all varies according to the individual. There's no right or wrong answer. If you can put together a good story in an initial draft, that's great. If it takes ten drafts to get it all just the way you want it, that's fine too.
     
  16. Alexander Tretheway
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    Alexander Tretheway Banned

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    I wrote my first draft about 4 years ago, it has been molded over and over like clay. Names changed... conversations different.. plot changes...

    When i wrote the first draft i had no idea of what the story would come to other than the hero being a douche bag.. and becoming better through love of a woman.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If you're like me, about four years worth. :p
     
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  18. Jared Carter
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    Jared Carter Member

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    I've lost counts of how many drafts I've done. I guess it especially doesn't help that sometimes I edit chapters out of order just because I feel like editing some chapters more than others. Currently, however, I'm using my chapter index as a checklist so that I can edit the chapters in order. Even after checking them off though, I still sometimes get the feeling like there's still much that can be improved, and yet I can't always put my finger on it. Hopefully when this particular draft is done I'll be confident enough to show it to some of my friends and family.
     

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