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How many drafts?

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LoveHistory
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How many drafts?

Post by LoveHistory » Wed May 11th, 2011, 2:41 am

I'm going through my second round of editing on my latest MS and I wondered how many drafts we all go through. Do you have a magic number that works for you? How do you know when you've reached the final draft?

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Wed May 11th, 2011, 10:00 am

I just finished my second. I think I'll do one more and then try to query. I can't be in the rewrite stage the rest of my life. :)
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fljustice
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Post by fljustice » Wed May 11th, 2011, 4:07 pm

I usually do about three. The first draft, no one sees but me. The second goes through my writer's group. The third rewrite is based on feedback from various sources. I'll go through it a couple more times, but mostly polishing and copy editing.
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donroc
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Post by donroc » Wed May 11th, 2011, 5:01 pm

For historical fiction, it takes at least three. The first is merging the characters and story with the great dump of info.

The second is eliminating or dramatizing more of the info and refining the characters.

The third is polishing my language building or diminishing the characters and cleaning inconsistencies if any.

Then comes the proofing and buffing for the Beta reader aka my literate in 5-languages wife-- which may lead to a 4th draft.

For non-historicals and screenplays, I do two drafts and the proofing.
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Post by tjwell01 » Fri May 20th, 2011, 4:00 pm

There's no such thing as a magic number. Good writing is re-writing. You can re-write something 20 times and it might not be good enough. You can always fix something and make it better. You'd be doing yourself a disservice to look at a revision as a number.

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Sun May 22nd, 2011, 1:28 am

[quote=""tjwell01""]There's no such thing as a magic number. Good writing is re-writing. You can re-write something 20 times and it might not be good enough. You can always fix something and make it better. You'd be doing yourself a disservice to look at a revision as a number.[/quote]

I'm not exactly. I was just curious if people settle into habits about that sort of thing.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sun May 22nd, 2011, 5:06 am

With novels, I do so much rewriting as I go that I couldn't possibly count the number of drafts. I'm trying to do less rewriting of the early chapters so I can get a complete first draft written faster, and so the later chapters will have as much care lavished on them as the early ones. But I'm working with a critique group, so I need to put a certain amount of polish into the chapters I give the group, and then I need to revise while the critiques are fresh in my mind, so there's a minimum of three drafts of each chapter right there, before a single complete draft is even written. Three drafts is not so many, but many of these chapters have been through several drafts already before I give them a last primping before the CG gets them. I find that when I finish a complete manuscript, the experience of writing the later chapters changes my perspective on the ones that came before, so they can need a considerable amount of reworking. And I haven't even published a novel yet - so it could be argued that my previous manuscripts didn't go through enough drafts!
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun May 22nd, 2011, 6:41 am

Like Margaret, my later chapters tend to go directions I did not foresee. So the early ones have to be revised to match. They actually need more work than the later ones, because by the last chapters I have a much better grasp of the story.

And then, once all the chapters are in, I go through and remove the dull spots. If it's dull to me, it'll be dull to the reader. Once you have the whole story, it's easier to see which parts are unnecessary. Besides, I always go over on word count, so on the re-write I look hard at every sentence, asking myself, "Is this worth the reader's valuable time?"

On average, I find that 15% of the verbiage really doesn't pass that test. In my early stuff, the percentage was even higher.

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Post by EC2 » Tue May 24th, 2011, 1:58 pm

I write a detailed synopsis so I know where I'm going - although it is subject to change on the smaller points of reference.

I write the 1st 3 chapters and polish them because they will be seen by my agent, editor, and the readers when I put them as a taster on my website.

I write the rest of the novel without looking back.

I then go back and edit the entire novel again on the PC, including polished chapters, which will still need an overhaul.

I print out the document and read it as I would a novel and make notes in pen.

I return to the PC and key in the alteration notes and revise again by reading through

I print out a new version and read aloud to my husband while making notes.

I put in any alteration notes made at the read-aloud. Read through again, and send off.
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Post by stu1883 » Mon May 30th, 2011, 9:52 am

[quote=""donroc""]For historical fiction, it takes at least three. The first is merging the characters and story with the great dump of info.

The second is eliminating or dramatizing more of the info and refining the characters.

The third is polishing my language building or diminishing the characters and cleaning inconsistencies if any.

Then comes the proofing and buffing for the Beta reader aka my literate in 5-languages wife-- which may lead to a 4th draft.

For non-historicals and screenplays, I do two drafts and the proofing.[/quote]

Great advice Donald, that is the way I want to look at my drafts; if I only I could get the first draft finished!!!

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