POINT OF VIEW: Winning the Draft

I’m in my happy place. 🙂

I just finished the first draft of “Dropnauts: Redemption Book One” (I know, this one has had more names than Diddy) last week. I’m in the middle of the second draft, and that’s one of my favorite parts of writing.

Why, you ask? Because:

  • I don’t have to push my poor little writer’s brain to be extra creative and come up with all sorts of new things, like I do in first draft.
  • The story is still fresh to me – in fact, it’s the first time I actually get to take a step back and view it in its entirety. It’s like a mural that has to be painted section by section, but then appears in all of its (hopefully) stunning glory when you can finally see the whole thing.
  • It’s a chance for me to take a deeper dive into this world I’ve created, using my writer’s pencil to sketch in all the beautiful details. Where before the sky was a “scary blue dome”, now it’s “an overarching arc of blue dotted with fluffy white clouds, overwhelming in its openness to someone who had lived their entire lives underground.”
  • There are no external critics yet. No one else has seen it – just me. It hasn’t gone through beta readers or editors or advance readers. For just a little bit longer, I can imagine that it’s perfect in every way.

Over the years I’ve developed a fairly specific method for writing and redrafting a story, one that helps me make the most of the story while not wearing out the text through overly extensive rewrites.

I start with a first draft, which I very rarely change except to fix continuity issues as I go. I keep moving forward at a steady pace, and keep a list of any issues I become aware of along the way.

In second draft, I go through the manuscript scene by scene, filling in a lot of sensory detail and smoothing out the text, as well as addressing any of the issues I noticed in the first draft.

Then the story goes to a few trusted beta readers, who give me feedback on the story arc, pacing, and any other particular issues that came to their attention.

Finally I consolidate all the beta reader comments into one manuscript, and resolve them one by one to create the submittable third draft.

But before I send it in, I have a list of things I usually do “wrong.” Some of the hilights:

  • My characters are always nodding too much.
  • I use too many perception filters, ie: She saw him do that.
  • I constantly type “form” instead of “from.”
  • My characters adore performing impossible simultaneous actions: He opened the closet door, taking out his shirt.

There are abut fifty of these that I check for, but you get the gist. Once thy are cleaned up, the manuscript is ready to go, as clean as I can make it without spending months and months on a final draft.

That’s my system. It may or may not work for you, but for me it packs the most punch in a reasonable amount of time, and keeps me moving on to the next project.

To my writer friends, how do you handle the multiple drafts before submission? Any tips or tricks you wanna share?