1. GeorgiaMasonIII

    GeorgiaMasonIII Member

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    How many drafts did your novel go through before you began pursuing publishing?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by GeorgiaMasonIII, Jan 29, 2017.

    I have only finished two drafts of my novel, which I feel like isn't enough. But I also don't edit; I rewrite. I rewrite every single word. So I get quite a chunk of "editing" done with each draft. But still, I'm curious how many drafts my fellow novel writers usually go through before pursuing publishing.
     
  2. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    I do three rewrites.
    1 Spag edit.
    Test-readers.
    Final changes.
     
  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I edit as I go, then do a fix-big-stuff stage, then hopefully a read-through, then send it to the editors. Once they're involved, it's a million more sweeps, but I don't really think you can call them separate drafts - sometimes there might be only a few changes suggested in any given revision.
     
  4. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    This was my process for my first two books:

    Step 1: Write a chapter. Quick edit of chapter for SPAG and other easy fixes.
    Step 2: When all chapters are done, read all the way through and edit as needed. Incorporate input from trusted Betas as needed.
    Step 3: One more final read through with all changes from Step 2 and make one last round of edits.
    Step 4: Submit to publisher.
    Step 5: Profit (LOL, I wish! :D)
     
  5. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    A first draft, sometimes doing minor corrections and revisions along the way (but taking notes of 'fixes' to implement).
    Then usually 3-4 passes, seeking different concerns to correct (plot/pacing/dialogue/description/grammar and typos)
    Send it to beta readers, then revise based upon comments.
    One more pass. Send to publisher.
    Get edits from editor. Make revisions.
    Check/proof galley (after copy edit)

    Then, sometimes one more pass after publication, when the audiobook version is recorded/produced.

    So, in essence about 9 drafts/versions, maybe 10, now. Eight or so before I found a publisher, before sending out my first manuscript to find a home.

    But that's just what works for me.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    I did about 7 passes four of which rewrote several sections on my own, and one professional edit. And still catch an occasional oops... think they are all gone now, but they will glare like beacons when I publish. They are like that.
     
  7. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    For my first novel I didn't go through discrete edits. It was continual changing and rewriting as I went.

    Since then I've done:
    1. Get the story down
    2. Edit to incorporate ideas that came to me after I began writing
    3. Line edit, looking at word choice and SPAG and all that.

    Then there are usually small changes after beta reading.
     
  8. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    A well-published author that I know told me, "Edit it until you can't stand to look at it... then edit it again anyway. " You never get a second chance to make a good first impression, so whether you are going trad or self pub, make sure your product is squeaky tight.
     
  9. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    I came to the conclusion years ago that no matter what I write I will have to rewrite it 10 times... sigh...
     
  10. Rafiki

    Rafiki Active Member

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    I do something similar, GeorgiaMasonIII. My writing process looks a little like this:

    1. Write the first draft. Sure, the first draft is always shit, but by grace or magic I have transcended the written word and produced a piece of pure splendor on my first try. Gaze upon my work mortals and lament.
    2. Starting from the first paragraph, retype the story line by line, changing and rewording sentences as I go. It's brute force, but it gets the job done.
    3. Realize halfway through the second draft my story is actually shit. Not only is it shit, but its failure is my failure as a person. My story is shit, therefore I am shit.
    4. Get depressed and stop writing for two days. Binge watch the West Wing.
    5. Dick around for two hours before getting started on day three because I don't want to face the jamboree of self-pity that is my story.
    6. Get excited because I accidentally wrote something witty. Use this energy to propel me through to the end.
    7. Start the third draft. This draft is identical in form to the second as it is another complete rewrite, except it goes faster as I've already made most of the major changes/edits. There is much self-congratulations. Ego inflates.
    8. Fourth draft is a read through for typos. Change the format to suit William Shunn and the rest of those stuffy gate keepers. Realize story is shit, but apathy stops me from changing anything major.
    9. Hate the story. By this point I've been staring at this for weeks/months, and I need a break. Everything is wrong with it, all the sentences are stilted and awful. Why do I even have dreams?
    10. Send off story to magazines.
    11. Collect rejection letters.

    Hope that helps :D
     
    Viridian, Homer Potvin, Lew and 2 others like this.
  11. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I did have to smile, reading this. But I think you are leaving out one of the most helpful steps you can take. After the initial couple of edits, SHOW the story to a few other people and get their feedback. It's only when you hear how others receive your story that you can tell if you've nailed it. Everybody won't love it unreservedly (if they do, I'd be suspicious of their motives!) but if you can take on board WHY they are lukewarm, or turned off, or just slightly bothered, that can only help you make it better.

    Consider beta readers as a dress rehearsal for the real thing.
     
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  12. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    Aliens went through 10 drafts, three of which were page-one rewrites. I'm currently working out a process so I can get this down to no page-one rewrites and three to four edit drafts maximum.

    Time will tell if it'll work. (sigh)
     
  13. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    I will second @jannert on that! And she knows why. I have had a lot of beta readers, and my very first, a co-worker, was reading it while I was still writing each chapter separately, first drafts. Her enthusiasm and nagging me for the next chapter made me feel like this wasn't a bloated overblown history lesson. She will get the first signed copy next week. Without her enthusiasm, even though it was still rough as a cob, the Eagle and the Dragon would still be an unfinished dream. More like a vague wish.
     
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  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think you just sort of know when something is ready for submissions. For some people that might mean one draft, for others maybe a dozen drafts. I make a real effort to write a clean first draft. Sure, it's not perfect, but I rather put in the time an effort to write well from the start than have extensive rewrites. Sometimes that can't be avoided. If a rewrite is really needed, I can't imagine more than one of them would be needed.
     
  15. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    A first draft doesn't have to just be an arbitrary marker of your progress. It can also provide you tools that half or even three fourths of a first draft can't. It provides a clear barrier between all the possible word combination that will never even get your novel and all the possible ones that will. Lame example, but if your story is about the Middle Ages start to finish, you now know for a certainty the word computer will never enter this novel.


    I think both the time spent putting a word into a second draft is on average much faster than the time spent putting a word into a first draft and the probability of putting the right word into a second draft is much higher than putting the right word into the first. Therefore, you actually might save time by breezing through with a shit first draft than taking too long.

    It's kind of like using a microscope. You start with a lower magnification so you can get in proximity of what you're looking for, and then you progressively work your way to higher magnifications. If you just jumped to the highest magnificayion, you'd be spending significantly more time finding your image.
     
  16. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    I used to write drafts ('never edit as you go along, just get it done') and rewrite, and all that stuff. Then I realized it was one of the main things keeping me from ever finishing a book. When I wrote 'The End', I wanted to get on with the next story, and not go back over the same old one.

    Now, it's basically:

    1. Each day, go back over what I wrote the previous day, and clean it up.
    2. Edit as I go.
    3. about 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 of the way through, go back to the beginning and clean up the entire story. Since I have been editing as I go, there are usually loose ends to sort out, and details to add.
    4. At the end of the first draft, get someone to read it, then fix what they find for a second draft
    5. Fix up any remaining typos, etc for the third draft.
    6. That's pretty much it.
     
  17. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    I'm hoping to only have to do two but since I have very high expectations of myself it'll probably be re read, rewritten and edited until I'm happy with it being published. As a matter of fact, this current one might be done through createspace because it's a difficult one to fit in a genre.
     
  18. KhalieLa

    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I have the first draft, that I self-edit to get draft 2. Then I hired a grad student to proof read that, so I was giving beta readers a critiquers something clean. I guess that would be draft 3, and after making necessary changes suggested by betas and critiques, I've got draft 4 on my hands. Then I hired a copy editor, so I was sending the publisher the highest quality document I could.
     
  19. terobi

    terobi Senior Member

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    I'm not entirely sure what I do counts as "drafting"...

    I don't just put words on paper, and come back to fix them later. I think about the words I'm putting down. My draft chapter generally looks polished, but it's self-contained. Then the next chapter and the next. Again, they look polished, but whether or not they flow together, I'm not sure of. Each time I notice something that doesn't quite fit, or needs changing, I note it down in a separate document, and keep going to the end, pretending I've already made the change in earlier chapters.

    By the time I reach the ending, my chapters likely don't fit together properly. This is my "draft zero".

    Another pass to sand the edges down, to correct anything that is later contradicted, to glue all of Chekhov's weaponry to the walls, to flesh out characters and elements that need fleshing out, until I have a draft that finally hangs together as a coherent, readable story. That's my draft one.

    After that, it's software version titles. Each pass for dialogue, prose polishing, line-editing, etc. gets a .1 version number. Major additions and changes get a 1.0 version number.

    I'd say it'll generally get to about 2.1/2.2 when I'm more or less happy with it, in the sense that anything else I do would just be tinkering.

    But then, I doubt my version history and draft numbers make sense to anyone but me.
     

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