The more books I write the less total rewriting time I spend. But that doesn’t change the number of drafts I do. What I mean is that going from Draft 1 to Draft 2 is less painful. That’s where all the plot holes and underdeveloped scenes need to be fixed. I think it’s because the more books I write, the longer my initial outlines become. I leave less room for tangents that lead nowhere.
But of drafts, there are many.
There’s the first draft, and then the major structural rewrite that ensues. Draft 3 I print to edit and it’s a mash of line editing, punching up emotions, discovering some hidden one liners, and sometimes still noting a major hole that needs filling. Draft 4 is often my wife’s draft. She’s an awesome first reader for me and that leads to a solid draft 5.
Draft 5 is about language and honing. Show don’t tell. Adverbs add nothing. Eliminating words like just and suddenly. Swapping the verb to be for action verbs. Yadda, yadda, etc.
Draft 6 is a line edit.
Draft 7 is a copy edit.
Draft 8 is a proof read.
Sometimes I use beta readers but often not. If there are technical elements, I definitely find someone to ensure I nail them.
Guess what, now it’s ready for real editors. Be it Inkslinger, the publisher, my agent, whomever, this is when I get back the editorial letter and dig in for another long haul. To be fair, the changes always seem dramatic at first, but I find this edit seldom takes more than a week or two and then I need to start back at Draft 7 and do the copy edit and proofing before I turn it around. That puts us at draft 10 or 11. It’ll then go through a pro line edit, copy edit, and proof read. To be honest, there’s not much work involved for me at this point. I tend to agree with most changes, the more heads the better.
So yeah, them’s the drafts. Ouch, right?
How many drafts do you do?