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.

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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 cohosting this month are:

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

jemima's flash fiction collection 2021
Time and Tinplate is out Thursday 10th June

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?

Amazon ~~~ AppleBooks ~~~ B&N ~~~ Kobobooks~~~Smashwords

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.

#IWSG June 2021 | In which we talk Drafting
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14 thoughts on “#IWSG June 2021 | In which we talk Drafting

  • 2 June, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    That’s great that you do what your manuscript needs and aren’t rigid on how long to wait on a project. I’m impressed that you could leave it for six months. I’d be too impatient, and don’t like to start a new project until I finish the last one.

  • 2 June, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    I like your organized routine for your books. I am in the process of finding my own routine.
    Good luck with your launch and have a lovely month of June.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  • 2 June, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    I usually let the first draft sit until all the chapters have been critiqued by my group, then go back and begin ‘editing!”

  • 2 June, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    You’re in no rush and that’s good.
    Research? What is that?

    • 2 June, 2021 at 5:12 pm

      It’s when you’re having your space travellers fall back on some oldfashioned comms technique called ‘radio’! 🙂

  • 2 June, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    We all have our systems that work for us. Thank goodness.

  • 2 June, 2021 at 7:32 pm

    I don’t pay attention to how long I let draft sits. It varies depending on how excited I am to get into editing. Or if life butts in.

  • 2 June, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    I finally figured out that the less I go back and re-read and do mini-edits, the less time I have to shelve the manuscript before the final polish.

  • 3 June, 2021 at 12:05 am

    A deadline definitely makes things go a bit faster!

  • 3 June, 2021 at 2:09 am

    I admire all the work you have completed!

    • 3 June, 2021 at 12:46 pm

      Well, I’ve been doing it for a while now. Somebody I started following when we both were starting out has twice as many books out as me, in something like six series! Although, really, I’ve grown past them now.

  • 3 June, 2021 at 4:30 am

    It’s a great idea to schedule your revisions depending on your time constrains and the length of the manuscript. I guess we all do that to some degree.

  • 3 June, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    Practically what you say makes sense. It just depends on the work at hand.

  • 4 June, 2021 at 12:45 am

    I save those mini-edits (typos, etc.) as my way into the big edits. When I’m ready to look at the MS again, I read it and fix those, even when I know some of them will end up on the cutting room floor. Just makes me feel like I’m making progress while re-familiarizing myself with the MS!

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