Drafting, and specifically going back to your first draft and redrafting. That’s today’s subject, and I confess I never think of any of them as a ‘draft’! I’m writing and editing, although I might call it a draft until it moves up to beta, then it gets to draft final. Which is not the same as final draft, which is probably the same as the beta version.
This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and his co-hosts for the month are: Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!
Drafting – the Question of the Month
For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?
Well. I’m not sure if I always do the same thing, or whether it’s changed with more experience. It may be different between the Princelings series and the Viridian System series. If it’s a short story or submission with a deadline, it always depends on the amount of time available.
When I was painting, with a mind for it to be ‘finished’, I learned to leave it on the easel somewhere I could see it often. That way I could get sufficiently used to it to see the faults.
Drafting with the Princelings series
To be honest it rarely felt like I was drafting something. I was full on writing down the story in my head, with characters I knew and loved. They generally dictated the execution of the plot. When I finished, I read it through. I had to work out what I meant to say when my typos had made the sense disappear. Then I’d put it aside for a ‘good while’. I’d say at least two months, sometimes six, depending on my ideal timetable for publication. I started to realised my editor needed it for a very long time, so I had to allow for that.
Viridian System series
Sometimes I feel I never stop drafting the Viridian series books. I have trouble getting them paced right, I think. Certainly the best thing I did was to chuck out the first two chapters or more. And that was well after I completed the first draft. Maybe I’ve got more professional at them since.
Since I finished the third in April, I’ve not yet had a month to reflect on it. Well, I did do a full read-through to correct typos and find sentences that didn’t make sense. But it was more to catch things I needed to work up or research (gosh, actually research something!). Those go in as comments on the draft. I don’t change things at this stage. I add warnings on potential plot holes. With series I may think I’ve said something differently in previous books, as well as later/earlier in the MS.
But apart from trying to get hold of my brother to do the research on something he’s an expert on (which is why I think I know enough about it to write it into the book), I’ll leave the book alone for a while. I just think it works best for me if I come to it fresh, like it’s new to me.
That could mean leaving it for six months. But I’d like to get it out in February, and beta readers probably need it in September, then there’s editoring. So I’ll probably get it out to start editing it at the end of June or sometime in July. It will depend on the weather, I expect!
Once I get down to it, it doesn’t take me that long to knock it into shape, usually, unless there’s something structurally wrong that I won’t see until the beta readers notice. I seem to have some sort of editing routine now, including searching for my overused words and repetitive things like that.
Writing to deadlines
If there’s a deadline, I have to get it into shape for my beta readers to read and comment on well before that. I probably won’t have more than a week to put it aside for a rest. But I’ll try to give it a break and a freshen up in my mind, to give it a good chance.
Anthologies and Collections
Which reminds me: I have notes back from my beta readers that I need to go through for my next short story collection: Weird and Weirder is due for publication in July. But Time and Tinplate is coming out next Thursday, June 10th, so why not pre-order that one now?
The IWSG Anthology call is out: this year’s genre is Sweet Romance and the theme is First Love. You can read all the details here.