Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by fjm3eyes, Nov 10, 2018.
Would anyone care to discuss?
In the days of the typewriter, I would have said "Yes, absolutely." However, with the ease of editing that came with the computer age, I'm thinking "Not really."
Whatever your process and whatever you want to call it, editing is kind of a necessity. You don't have to separate that editing into discrete drafts, but I would recommend it. At least for me, anyway, it makes the various types of editing you have to do just a lot easier to do and keep track of. Plus, there's something satisfying about going through a huge stack of printed pages with a big red pen and a bunch of highlighters stroking out lines and making assorted notes as you go.
In the case of drafts, I would go along with Not really. In the case of editing, which I think is different from drafting, I would, and this is a pretty strong would, say Yes. Not all writers approach writing and editing the same. Me - - I like to make each word count, and spend time coming up with the right word, as I see it. I edit as I go. I'm used to this; for me, there is no other way. If I don't write what I wrote, I will re-write it from scratch, keeping the same idea and characters. The differences between the two may be semantic, but I don't see the necessity for for one or more drafts.
I write short stories, and this may guide me the distinction. I don't know.
Except, again, most people would call the re-write a second draft.
Also, YOU don't need one or more drafts. Other people do.
I definitely need MULTIPLE drafts. I don't know the exact number of times but I read over every chapter multiple times on different days and always find something new to correct, a sentence I could make better, or something that just does not add up. I would be shocked if there is someone who could write something worth reading in one or two drafts. Maybe there is....
Other people need one or more drafts. Yes, they do. I reiterate what I've said, every writer is different, and so is their process.
If you can write a novel from the first word to THE END and be happy with the whole thing, every last sentence, then you don't need revision and you don't need any other drafts.
If, like most writers, you read it over and find places you can improve, you'll want to do another draft. Write until it's good.
Returning to add: In my case, I can't stomach totally rough-draft-quality writing. Most scenes get multiple polishing runs before I put them aside and work on another scene. However, that doesn't change the fact that the novel as a whole is going to need multiple drafts.
If I were to use a programming analogy, I might refer to unit testing, integration testing, system testing, beta testing, and user acceptance testing. But, eew.
Write until it's good. I most certainly agree with that.
There's a huge chance that as a new writer you will be spending weeks and months trying to perfect those first few pages, or even the first few chapters. It often happens that a new writer gets so tired of those first few pages and the first chapter that they get tired of writing as a whole and the rest of the book may never get written. You go over and over and over the same text and it's still not perfect. That can be rather frustrating. It can lead to a great disappointment, the writer thinking they are not capable of finishing the book and all that. And the simple cure for that doom and gloom is to simply plod on, write the second chapter, then the third etc, until you finish the whole thing. That will be the first draft. And only then you go back and start changing those first few pages, the first chapter, then the second one etc. And that will be the second draft. If the book is not ready then, you can do a third draft, or a fourth, etc. The point being that you are not stuck on one page, or one chapter. If you already have the whole book in front of you, even if it's not perfect, you may have a much better idea of how those first few pages and that first problematic chapter should look. It would be much easier to fix them after you finished the whole book.
Depends on your goals, I'd say. You need to do enough drafts (or enough editing, depending on terminology) to get the MS to the state it needs to be in to meet your goals.
If you're writing for fun, stop when it's no longer fun. If you're writing to meet a personal standard, stop when you've reached that standard. If you're writing for a publisher? Stop when your publisher is satisfied. etc.
I would be fascinated to meet someone who edited as they went, finished a novel, put it aside for a month, and then came back to it to decide that not a single line of dialog was unnecessary, or a single line of description out of place. All of the exposition in perfect balance and every twist perfectly foreshadowed. Like, how big is that person's brain, am I right?
I'm reminded of one of my favorite scenes from Amadeus.
Which is crazy, because the ear can only hear so many notes.
Eh...see, you trigger in me a desire to be geeky, and address the vibration nature of light and sound, and Luca Turin's vibration theory of smell, and the other, more accepted theory that we can smell only so many things, and my allegiance with the Turin theory...
But leaving the Turin controversy out, surely the ear can hear an infinite number of notes.
Having a shitty first draft is an incredibly useful first step in writing anything meaningful. Not only do they provide you a base to start from, but they allow you to jump back and forth in time to make sure everything lines up in the end.
I would say having multiple drafts is an absolutely necessary first step in achieving a publishable novel.
Yes, they are. Absolutely so. Nothing is amazing in the beginning. Even Michelangelo's David started as a lump of ugly rock with a crude figure chiselled out of it.
A writer who thinks his work is amazing in its first iteration is heading for trouble.
But also like David, given his proportions, it's important to know when and where to stop cutting.
Especially in the ankle region. Otherwise the whole thing might end up ruined!
First time poster here. I've just spent nine months writing a novel, editing as I went, believing that I didn't need to write a second draft. Looking back I wonder if writing a messy first draft, without editing and completing it inside of a couple of months, then writing a second and even third draft might have been better.
It's down to what each individual thinks works. Successful and celebrated authors can go either way. When I attempt my next novel I'm going to try and write in drafts and see which experience I prefer.
I don't know if I could edit a novel as I go. Writing short stories, though, it works well for me.
I think that for most writers (I totally believe that there are exceptions), no amount of editing and polishing in the first draft will keep them from needing a second draft. It's not just about whether this specific sentence, paragraph, or page is good--it's about how it works in the whole.
I would think it highly unlikely that you could spot every plot hole, judge your overall structure, catch every loose end not tied up. gauge pace, judge the emotional highs and lows, and erase every POV problem, all while completing the first draft, even if you edit as you go. Not saying it's impossible. But highly unlikely.
Separate names with a comma.