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  1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    How many drafts?

    Discussion in 'Short Stories' started by deadrats, Oct 15, 2019.

    How many times to you put one of your short stories through the wringer? How many drafts do you do? I can't really count the number of drafts I do because I don't save old drafts. I work within my original draft. I will scrap a whole version sometimes and start again in a blank document. But it seems like no matter what I do, it takes me going over and over a story to actually produce something I feel good about submitting. This isn't tinkering. This is necessary for my stories to stand a chance out there. I would say that I rework a story enough times that on average it probably equals about a dozen drafts.

    Do you guys keep count of your drafts and revision? How do you know when you've gotten your work to where you want it would be? And please don't say you rely on the opinion of others for this. I love trading stories and giving and getting feedback, but it doesn't cut down the amount of work I need to do or really tell me when a submission is actually ready for publication.

    I'm having a hard time calling several new stories finished. I hope I'm not developing some weird complex. That would suck. I just want to make sure I'm hitting all the right notes. How to you trust your judgement when it comes to really finishing a piece? How go you ignore that part of you that thinks you can still make it better, you just need more time? How many drafts or how long does it take you to write a good short story?
     
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  2. feedmyogres

    feedmyogres New Member

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    I save all my drafts, and 10 or more drafts is not unusual for me. I'm not a very experienced writer, though. I think I assumed the number of drafts would go down with practice, but who knows? I have a ton to learn about the craft of writing, so I'm always reading books and articles/blog posts about story structure, how to write interesting characters, what kinds of words & phrases to avoid and so on. For me, it's done when I'm happy with the way the story pans out and I've applied all that writing advice as best I can. It's still very far from perfect at that point, but I know it's the best I can do on my own.

    "How many drafts does it take to write a good short story" is a question I can't personally answer because I don't think I've ever written a good short story. However, I do sometimes get bogged down in rewriting endlessly because I'm not happy with what I've got, but without having any clear direction on how to make it better. I would say if you find yourself doing that, it might be a good time to put that story away and work on something else for awhile, then come back to it later with fresh eyes.

    Sorry this doesn't really answer your question, but I sympathise with what you're saying.
     
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  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I keep all my drafts. I copy and paste them in subfolders because sometimes my first drafts contain absolute gems that I might be too quick to dismiss and have to go back to them. And even if I use nothing it still leaves a breadcrumb trail showing that I'm either getting better or easier to please. My first short stories were up to thirteen drafts, the most recent ones like my Santa and the Snowmen of Doom was about two or three drafts.

    For me each project is unique -- sometimes I discover exactly what I want to say in the story and that's why it only takes me a few drafts and other times I feel as though I still haven't got it and am blundering around until I do. I did that for a moment in my extension of my short story Not Pink and lately I've been doing it in my novel. Until I discover that moment and usually I know immediately that I have it, and it's not usually the idea but the expression of it in a specific paragraph, then I feel like -- terrific, I've got it! I didn't feel that way for my story Only Ten but I've set the story aside after six rewrites because I have to admit if I keep tearing at it, I will have to drastically alter the story one way or another. So I've decided just to leave it as is - a flimsy thought piece. I've done that for a few pieces. I weigh the options - if I tear it apart again will I make it better, find what I finally want to say, loose what I have, waste time, make myself more frustrated?
     
  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm starting to think there are endless drafts leading up to publications. Stories are probably better for it. I finally finished rewriting and revising one I wrote about a year ago and have played with off and on. I don't know why I felt like this time it all worked. I was starting to wonder if it was a throwaway story. Now, I think it's the best thing I ever wrote. It doesn't read anywhere near the quality of an early draft, but it took many tries to get it there. But who knows? I could write the whole thing again in another year.
     
  5. thiefacrobat286

    thiefacrobat286 Member

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    I have multiple files and drafts of all my stories, I'm very scatterbrained and disorganized, and I switch around a l9t. I'm mostly a pantser, but sometimes I plot and outline for longer projects.
     
  6. J Chris

    J Chris Member

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    There's no magic number. Some stories take a few drafts, others require many more. I know I'm ready to submit them when I no longer have anything truthful to say.
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    It's easy enough to submit a short story. Selling it is another whole game entirely.
     
  8. J Chris

    J Chris Member

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    I would assume anyone submitting a story does so with the confidence that it can sell.
     
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  9. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    One could assume that, but some days it's more hope than confidence.
     
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  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    It's hard when my best stories still get rejected. And I don't mean once, but like twenty times. Other times I've been shocked (but thrilled) because a story does sell. It's not always a story I would have guessed to be a good sale. So, it's hard to know how these things will turn out. I guess that's why I'm trying harder and really trying to put both time and effort into my work. And having worked with publication editors, I know my version that was actually accepted is more like just another draft. There can be a lot of work and rewriting before the story comes out. Every editor I've worked with has been amazing and helped elevate my story. I feel like I've got to be good enough that an editor thinks it's worth their time to work with my story. And this is something that's proven to be so hard to do.
     
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