How do you go about writing your novels or other writing projects? I can see clearly now that I will be going through my book in three significant drafts (definitely more, but then mostly for small changes) with a fairly swift editing/proofreading run after each. It should be noted that there are actually more than three revisions because during the edit/proofread runs I of course make some larger changes as I find places where they are required.
Draft 1 is the skeletal structure of the book. Any effective writing is essentially “showing” the reader what you are talking about, as opposed “telling” them. Draft 1 is more of me “telling” myself what the characters are doing, because it is not really meant to be read by others. It uses simpler language overall, the focus is on ensuring all the key elements are there. Draft 1 is shorter but important for me to understand the plot completely before getting seriously entangled in its creation. It also is a way to fight procrastination, ensuring that I at least get it done, at the bare minimum.
For Draft 2, I go through it again and really add meat to the bones. Personally, I would call this draft the most important. Using more complex and figurative language, I expect the word count to increase by anywhere from 15% to 65% (usually). I have a great understanding of my own story now, so I can add in higher quality descriptions to feed the reader’s five senses, and real, deep emotions and morals to character actions, thoughts, and dialogues (the good stuff). This stage takes slightly less time than the first draft as the basics (and more) are done, and much of the writer’s block from ‘what happens next’ and ‘what does this character think of the situation?’ has been suffered through.
Draft 3 is the polishing-up of every chapter and, if needed, the re-ordering of sentences for optimal fluidity, and even possibly changing the order of the chapters to ensure the timelines all make sense. At the end of this stage, for the most part I deserve to feel like “this is done”. Every additional look at the chapters thereafter is mostly small edits and nit-picking to make it as perfect as can be. Then after that, you know, getting published.
So, that’s the plan. I have to say it works for me quite well. But I am not a professional. Heck, I always hated English classes in high-school and was never able to get decent grades in those subjects, and I while I did quite well for myself in university, that was in completing a commerce degree. However, some might be surprised to learn there is actually a ton of writing in that discipline. My struggles in English were mostly due to the reality of rarely being provided with topics, novels, and other things that actually interested me. And also maybe because yes, I was that person in during high-school (the last time I took an official English class) who did little homework and next to no studying before tests and exams, obtaining A’s mostly by paying attention and a highly intuitive personality (INTJ personalities for the win!). That did not work well in English since one must read to know what is going on. Anyway, I have no clue whatsoever as to what the “proper method” is, or if there even is one…?
So, tell me how do YOU do it? Seriously, I would love to know. Feel free to call me crazy, but I can tell you, quite confidently, that I will not find myself working through my manuscript making overhauling changes a 4th time. When I read through my current incomplete first draft, I quickly see ways of vastly improving its quality, but much – sometimes most – of it is there. It can be greatly enhanced and added to, oh boy can it ever, but hardly changed. I love that there are many ways of doing almost everything. We each work differently, and that’s a great thing. I think my planning and outlining really help me out. I know for the most part what happens, yet frequently I am pleasantly surprised how things take shape as I write, because I am always learning the how and why.
© 2013 FOTS Fantasy