Final Draft (?)

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This post is by Joe Stephens

I’m about a third of the way through a fourth draft of my new WIP and I anticipate that after this will come one last run-through that will just be looking for stray typos and grammar errors. But you can never tell. I may get part way through this and realize I hate something or there’s a plot hole that I still missed after fourHome Office, Workstation, Office, Business, Notebook drafts. But at some point in time, I have to say enough is enough and put this baby to bed.

The question becomes, though, when that is. I’ve read of authors who do more than 20 drafts of a book. And they talk about how each draft is like torture. Frankly, I don’t love writing enough to go through that. I’m pretty sure I’ll never make it to even double digits. I feel like, at some point, I would actually be overthinking it and actually making the book worse instead of better.

Writing, Write, Person, Paperwork, Paper, NotebookAnother issue I deal with, and I wrote about this in much greater length on my personal blog, is the difference between paper-based editing and doing it on the computer. I did the first three books in this series all on-screen, and I intended to do the same with this one, but I printed a copy for a friend to proofread for me and it turned out I wasn’t going to see her anytime soon, so I ended up emailing it to her. That left me with a paper manuscript. So, on a whim, I started editing, thinking it was going to be minor fixes only. I ended up adding whole chapters and increasing the length of several others in order to flesh out characters better and remedy plotholes. I really don’t think I would have done that if not for using the printed page to edit. And the book would have seriously suffered for it.

So I think I’ll continue writing on computer, but the first edit will be on paper. After that, I’ll go back to computer for a couple more drafts. How about you? What’s your method? Paper or screen? How many drafts?

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13 Responses to Final Draft (?)

  1. Doris says:

    I think it’s funny. My first drafts are always on paper, so I usually only end up with three drafts at most. I find it fascinating how writers get to the end of their project. I have a friend who writes the dialog in draft one, Draft two is back story and three is adding anything she may have missed.

    Best to you on this new book. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      I think that would get me so confused that I’d make a terrible mess of it. But it works for her. Thanks!

      Like

  2. Nancy Jardine says:

    The first version of my time travel novel for teens (self-published May 2015) was printed out to do what I thought was a final edit. Like you I made lots of changes. Then, when I thought I was satisfied, I had to print out a number of full manuscript copies to send to Childrens’ publishers. This was maybe around 2010 and I hated all the paper it took…and then the postage was something else. All submissions were unsuccessful, so I tucked the ms in a cupboard and only pulled it back out in late 2014. I asked a fully trained editor at Crooked Cat (my publisher) to work privately for me and give it an overview. He gave me lots of pointers to work on and only after more edits on the computer were we both satisfied with it. It can be a long haul- Joe! Good luck with the stage you’re at- whatever that may be. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I use a computer for all my writing. Because my late husband was an avid baseball fan, I’ve developed the three strikes and you’re done method. This means I read through a piece at lesast three times, paying particular attention to style, grammar, spelling, etc. Sometimes, I feel I need to read something through a fourth time, but that doesn’t happen often.

    This is with prose. I often read poems more than three times before I consider them ready to go. With anything I write, after it’s been sent out or published, I always think of something I could have changed. However, I believe that you can edit until the cows come home, and you’ll never get anything published.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike Staton says:

    I find I do the heavier editing for the second draft. If I am doing total rewrites on the third or fourth drafts, I know something is seriously wrong with the plot. Like I’ve said before, I do intricately detailed chapter outlines to try to cut down on plot fog. Hopefully, that will help in the final product of the civil war novel I am now writing. I just had a reviewer tell me he doesn’t like how I am handling my halo subplot (my main character, soldier Bill Stamford, will every now and then see a halo around someone destined to die soon). He is afraid Bill is too accepting of seeing his friends die and not trying to change fate… after all, why else would God allow Bill to have the gift, right? I have decided to make sure on the second draft that I make clearer that Bill is terrified of being seen as possessed, and so is afraid to go public with the halos. I thought I had mentioned Bill’s possession fears early in the book… will have to make sure when I do the second draft. By the way, 20 drafts… that’s something I would never do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      I don’t outline. I’m a pantser and let the plot go where it wants as long as it follows the general arc I have in mind. That leads to plot holes and thin characters sometimes, though, which is what I needed to fix this time. And yes, I had to read the quotation twice to make sure I hadn’t misread it. I just couldn’t bring myself to write if it were that arduous.

      Like

  5. Wranglers says:

    Joe, I’ve used both. My first book was edited 15 times, once by a professional, some by family, and the rest by me. Always my husband and Daugherty help me. One time a friend was a great editor. If I’m in a critique group, well we don’t want to even go there. Nice blog and photos. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joe Stephens says:

      I wouldn’t mind it being edited more if I weren’t doing all the editing. But I’m a one-man operation, so I think five is probably my limit.

      Like

  6. I always print out drafts when I think they’re ready for editing. I can’t do a thorough edit on the computer screen. I’m not sure why that is but I can’t even read short stories over 3,000 words on the computer. I run everything by Travis and Stephen. Then once they’re satisfied and I’m satisfied, it’s done. Usually, the first draft is heavily edited and then I’ll have maybe 1 or 2 after that with slight changes. But I write short stories so the process is much quicker. I also think it’s extremely important to read everything aloud too. Best of luck, Joe!

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  7. Great post Joe! I do my first drafts on the computer and edit them that way for the first couple of read-throughs. Then I print off a copy for my proofreaders to read and I spend a lot of time on that one editing. I guess whatever works is the best!

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  8. S J Brown says:

    I generally find that 3 rewrites is enough. After that I seem to be putting things back the way they were. I do most of my writing on the computer but always try to do one rewrite from a printed copy. With the printed copy I can make notes in the margins and add entire paragraphs on the back of the page.

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