Posted in Writing

Why You Should Aim for Five Drafts of Your Novel

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My writing process for my novels is committing to 2,000 words or more a day every day until the first draft of my novel is complete.

I don’t spend too much time generating ideas, planning, organizing, or goal-setting. As long I understand fully who my characters are — I always break down the characters and understand their motivations early on — where my story begins, where my story ends, and a little bit about the middle, I’m ready to go.

After I complete the first draft, I let it sit for 4 to 6 weeks, and it’s often during this time I tackle a new short story, or work on a revision for another novel.

My heaviest revision is on the second draft. I like to print out the pages — sometimes as many as 500 — and mark up my manuscript with no hesitation.

First, I read through the whole thing without making any marks (in one sitting, if I’m ambitious), but then I start marking on the next read-through. I will sometimes X out entire chapters if I feel like they’re not working, and it’s easy for me to cross out a scene if I don’t feel it’s necessary to the overall story.

The third draft I similarly use to locate elements of the story that aren’t working, and try to move things around, add new scenes, delete chunks of pages.

I don’t begin my more specific editing until the fourth draft. Once I feel it’s getting more polished, I have a beta reader read through my manuscript and give me notes, not just on grammar, but more on thematic issues and character motivations.

I don’t feel like the manuscript is ready for any potential agents or editors to see until I’ve completed the fifth draft, following that beta read.

Only when I complete my fifth draft do I start pitching my work!

That’s the process that works best for me, and it will likely bring success to you, too!

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