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 four 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.
Another 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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