How Many Drafts?

As many as it takes. I’m working on the third draft of The Warden, but the truth is that I’ve been through that draft more than once, so I’m not really sure how to number drafts, assuming that I wanted to be accurate about it. What seems to happen is that I go through a draft as many times as it takes for me to be provisionally satisfied with it. Then, if there’s time, I let it rest a while before creating the next numbered draft. I’ll probably settle for four for this novel, mainly because I still haven’t written the last chapters, and those will need the most going over before I’m satisfied with them.

Right now, I’m keeping an eye out for the picky stuff like punctuation errors and duplicate or dropped words, but mostly, I’m tweaking sentences to run more smoothly, and picking up on the tiny things that most readers won’t even notice. ¬†Sentences that don’t refer as clearly as they should to something in the past, or small continuity errors. And then are the errors that slip in, unnoticed, when you’re correcting the original errors.

Whatever the actual number of the last draft, the very last thing I do with it is line editing, which is the hardest and nastiest part of the whole job, as far as I’m concerned. This is the one that requires a change of font and font size, in order to force the eyes to see things anew. And patience and concentration, above all.


6 thoughts on “How Many Drafts?

  1. I don’t make drafts. I might have a few earlier versions of “The Termite Queen” around here preserved on an antiquated floppy disk or in a different document, but basically I just write and then revise … and revise … and revise. If I read through TQ right notw, I would revise some more. And oddly I enjoy the revision more than the original writing, especially if the original didn’t come easily through inspiration. I guess I’m just egotistically enamored of my own writing, because I love to read my stories! They suit my tastes!

    1. It isn’t absolutely necessary to make separate drafts, but I figure that if I change a story in a way that I’m not happy with, I might want to go back to the original for a do-over.

      I enjoy revisions, for the most part, and I also like to read my own work. It’s a pleasure to see what’s good about it, and a reminder than I might be able to do better next time. And, yup, I write what I’d want to read.

  2. Sorry about the “notw” in the first post – I had written “not” and I didn’t get the “t” out when I fixed it! I do save parts that I cut from my writing. I always have a “Notes” document for each story and I have a section for deleted text. That way, I can reuse material if I see a need for it and won’t have to rewrite. For example, I have some earlier versions of the future history stuff that I preserved in that way. I rewrote that section a lot.

  3. Rather than separate drafts, I tend to do numerous small readings and tweakings, sometimes of the whole thing, sometimes just bits. I only make a complete fresh draft when I have made major alterations such as deleting or altering a big chunk of text and I want to keep the older version as well, in case I change my mind or want to use some discarded details or dialogue somewhere else. I also ended up with a big document of compiled ‘outtakes’ where I stuck alternate versions of events.

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