Monday, January 16, 2012

Draft Done!

Notice how I didn't title this: Book Done!, because a book is never done until it is on the shelves. Even then, there could still be mistakes. I was recently going through the Hunger Games and found a typo. (But we will forgive Ms. Collins and her team because they produce amazing books.) What I mean is a draft is done. And the draft of a novel goes through many stages.

The First Draft
I am a pantster (most of the time). I figure out the overall concept for a story in my head and start writing. Often, I write 50 pages, decide it is crap and start over again...several times. Eventually, I get through it, and sitting on my hard drive is piece of fiction that is mostly crap. But I do have a good idea of the sequence of events, how I want things to end and the overall persona of the characters.

The Second Draft?
Sometimes, at this phase, I decide the original idea is beyond crap and not even worth saving. At this point, I set it aside and start something new...50 pages at a time. If I decide the first draft is worth a second go around, I rewrite it. Yep, that's right. I may take a few pages of my first draft to my second draft, but the majority of it is completely re-typed. I only use my first draft to identify what's working and what isn't. The ideas that are working, stay. The ones that aren't are changed.

The Third Draft
Now I have something I can work with. Again, there is some serious rewriting to be done here. Often complete chapters. This is also the stage where I go, "I don't really like this character." And I rewrite all her dialogue and scenes. I start looking hard at where I want my chapters to end, and even though the events may stay the same, I'll change the character's motivation for making them happen.

The Fourth Draft
This is a decent draft, something I'm not embarrassed to associate with my name. The editing in this stage is minor: formatting, correcting typos, making sure names and dates match up. I also look at my paragraph and sentence beginnings and make sure they don't all start with, "I." This draft I've read through fairly quickly, so I can also spot places where I used the same decriptive phrases, and I wrack my brain for another way to describe curiosity besides, "a raised eyebrow."

The Fifth Draft
I've just gotten my draft back from my Beta readers. I read their comments, cringe at all the typos I did miss, curse at some of the things they've said and then I put it away. Days later I go back and fix everything they suggested because they're right. Once those are done, I take one last look to make sure everything's in place and THEN I send it to my agent. We might have discussed concepts before now, but this draft, draft 5 will be the first time she sets eyes on it. And while I'm waiting for her comments for draft 6, I go right back to the top and start something new.

A lot of time might pass between drafts, but at every stage there's a sense of accomplishment and pride that you've done something, made it better, and eventually it could be great. So keep writing!

1 comment:

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

I am also a pantser. It's more fun to write that way.
I also go through a million rounds of drafts. :)