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How many drafts?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Garren Jacobsen, May 23, 2013.

  1. So I have a quick question for you all. When you are writing your books how many drafts do you suggest one writes before submitting it to an agent/publisher/E-publishing it. So far for my WIP called Blood Iron I am working on draft 2 as an FYI.

    However, with my other works I've done, like school papers, law school personal statements, and the like. I usually do 3 drafts minimum and I think my max was 11 and that sucker was dang near perfect with every word chosen for a specific effect. What do you all suggest? 3? 11? or something in between?
  2. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    2 before beta reading, then at least one more to fix problems the beta reader points out. If you have serious structural issues, you may need more drafts (and more readers.)
    Garren Jacobsen likes this.
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    There's really no answer to this question. How many drafts does it take before you, as author, consider it done and are willing to put your name on it.

    I've had stories ready after the initial draft (for short stories), and for longer works may end up doing many more revisions. But there hasn't been a set number for me, where I can say "OK, after a third draft it is done." It's done when it's done. If all goes exceedingly well, that's after maybe one round of edits to the initial draft. But that's certainly not always the case.
    Garren Jacobsen likes this.
  4. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    Blandly accurate answer: it'll probably depend on the story.

    I've finished things in a draft and a half ('a half' meaning I rewrote parts of it but left large chunks of it alone, excluding error fixing and whatnot), and other times I'll write 14 drafts before I'm satisfied. It depends on how much changes between drafts - if you introduce a new plot point or character or theme in Draft 2, you'll probably need a Draft 3, since all of those things are functionally only getting one draft at that point. It depends on how good your first draft is. If you spend two years writing a single draft, going back and editing as you write, then that draft is probably only going to need a bit of fine tuning to make sure everything flows and your metaphors match before you take it to the editor. But if you wrote your first draft during NaNoWriMo, you'll definitely need a second crack at it. And sometimes, you'll have three really solid drafts and then you'll write Draft 4 and like it less than Draft 3 and just decide to take the third one to the presses, or alternatively scrap the fourth one entirely and move right on to Draft 5.

    Just work on it until you're happy, really.
    Garren Jacobsen likes this.
  5. I ask this because I don't want to get paralyzed with edits and revisions. Writing a whole novel is something that is...important to me. And the more important something is to me the more I edit it. Like the 11 drafter that thing was a part of deciding my future non-writing job prospects. That was only about three pages long but it took me over a month to get it to the point of near perfection. If allowed I probably would have gone through it 11 more times before submitting it but time was of the essence and I had to get it out there. So I suppose a better question would be is there a point of diminishing returns where I should say screw it and try my luck?
  6. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Perfect. Couldn't have said it better myself. :D
  7. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    It depends on how fast I get to the point of where I think it's good enough. For me I call major revisions "drafts" and a read through where I change a few things "a pass". Usually for me, I do on average three to four drafts. For short stories I may do 10 passes, but for novels I may do up to 20-30 passes for each scene/chapter.
  8. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

    Yes, there is a point of diminishing returns on editing, but the thing is that only you will know where that point lies. And only time and experience can teach you that. Have you gotten to the point where you're exchanging one word for another back and forth? No? Then you're probably not done yet. Every author can always pick up a work that has made it into print and find small things that they might have changed with another go around. It's the nature of the creative mind. But, it's also part of the profession to know when it's time to let your baby go out into the world and fly on its own.

    So, I think, it's ready when it's ready. When it's grammatically sound, no typos, no plot holes you can drive a Mac truck through... when you just get that feeling that now, you're just spinning your wheels, procrastinating about letting it go. Now is the time to send it out.
  9. Alexandra

    Alexandra Closed Account

    This is a rhetorical question and like so many questions about the writing process there is no definitive answer. I write and draft until I'm satisfied then I submit. Later I write and draft until my editor and/or publisher is satisfied. In my writing history the most complete drafts for a book, one. Most drafts for an article, three.
  10. KRHolbrook

    KRHolbrook Scribe

    As many have suggested already, it really depends on the author. Do you feel it's good enough? Does it capture attention the whole way through and hold onto it? Is everything a detail that moves the story forward? Are all the tenses and grammatical problems gone? I've got a problem where I focus on all the things wrong with my writing, which makes me write it over and over again. And I don't mean rewrite bits and pieces, but full rewrites. The short stories I write go through one or two drafts before submitting. I have had one flash fiction piece that had no touching up. Everyone said not to touch it, it was perfect as-is. But novels are tougher to judge. It's all in your hands.
  11. Rob P

    Rob P Minstrel

    I'm currently in the middle of my first edit, the one that deals with all the obvious stuff, like word redundancy, spelling, grammar, POV problems, tense mistakes, over-indulgent use of commas. What I refer to as most of the technical stuff.

    That will get me to draft two and the next read through.

    Edit two will look at the large brush strokes. Does the story flow correctly, are chapters in the right order, are my timelines correct, are there plot-holes, do I need to remove scenes or add scenes.

    This will get me to draft number three and another read through.

    The third edit will look at adverb use, ensuring narrative aspects of someone's POV matches dialogue style, dialogue tags are correct, cliches are creatively adjusted and general pass through of most of the other technical stuff.

    This will get me to draft number four and yet another read through. Each time I hope to shorten the edit process and I look to edit four being no more than polishing.

    I believe that when you edit you need to attack it with some structure. The above is mine but everybody is different.
  12. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    Completely agree. My revision & editing process is a similar approach, focused on specific aspects.

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