1. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Aug 23, 2013
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    First Draft, Summary, Second Draft

    Discussion in 'Revision and Editing' started by Simpson17866, Jan 23, 2019.

    I'd finished the 115k word first draft of my WIP almost a year ago, but I've spent a good portion of the time since then not getting serious about the editing (partially because my real life has gotten a lot busier than it used to be, but still), and even when I was editing, I wasn't making a lot of progress.

    A couple of months ago, I read about the importance of writing a treatment of one's novel before sending it to a publisher: a fairly long, detailed summary of the novel that details what happens chapter-by-chapter, and that may or may not also have a really quick inside-jacket-level synopsis at the beginning.

    The one guide in particular that I found – and for the life of me, I have not been able to find it again, but I will post it to the Resources as soon as I do! – recommended that the treatment summary be 1/25th length; for example, my first draft of roughly 115,000 words should ideally be summarized by a treatment of roughly 4,600 words.

    I started writing a treatment, and I decided that I would apply the 1/25th length recommendation to each chapter, give or take a little bit of wiggle room. If a summary of a chapter was coming out too long, I'd try to see which parts I could gloss over more, and if a summary of a chapter was coming out too short, I'd try to see which parts I could flesh out more.

    Having to re-read the entire manuscript, chapter-by-chapter, and then figure out which parts of each chapter to include in that chapter's summary and which parts to gloss over
    • Showed me a lot of SPAG errors I'd missed the first few times
    • Showed me a continuity error I'd missed the first time
    • Showed me that I'd repeated myself a lot more times than I'd needed to
    • Showed me that a bit of exposition worked better if it was made far shorter and if it was introduced a lot earlier
    I'm the kind of writer who always has to edit on the go, and by the time I finished my 4,470-word summary, I'd cut 1,530 more words from my manuscript than I'd added (bringing the total from 115,345 down to 113,815). After all, when something's not important enough to summarize, sometimes that's because it's not important to the full manuscript either.

    I still have some pretty serious edits I want to make, but now I have a far clearer picture in my head of where they'll be and what they'll look like.

    I would recommend wholeheartedly this method of summarizing the manuscript chapter-by-chapter between drafts (in particular, the target of 1/25th length to aim for worked very well for me), but especially writers like me who have an easy time coming up with the grand concepts at the higher level of the themes and the specific details at the lower level of the scenes, but who have trouble synthesizing the two at the medium level of the plot.

    Even writers who'd written the story from a very detailed summary could still benefit from doing it again to see which parts are still as important as they'd originally thought, which parts have turned out to be less so, and which parts have turned out to be more so.
    Stormburn likes this.
  2. Stormburn

    Stormburn Contributor Contributor

    Mar 28, 2017
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    Ann Arbor, MI
    That is interesting! The second draft of my novel is a developmental draft.
    Basically, it's where I comb through the 1st checking for fixes, and improvements.
    Simpson17866 likes this.

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