Friday, June 20, 2014

How Many Edits

How many edits does it take to get to the chewy center… oh wait, that’s candy. Really though, when you start editing and rewriting, a similar question is going to come up. How many drafts does it take to get a send-able product? And like many aspects of writing, the answer will be: it varies. For each writer and even each project, the number will vary. It’s your job to find out the combination that works best for you and for the individual story.

I’m still figuring out mine. I’ve got 10 chapters left for the minor edit I’ve been doing. I call it a minor edit because even though I’m doing it from the very end of the novel towards the beginning to look at it sentence by sentence (tedious work indeed), the changes are all minor. I’m catching the typing errors, tense slip ups and such. I have another edit planned for after the nit-picky one, which sounds weird to a degree since I would have thought the fix the minor errors would be the last stage. Not this time. I have to go through and fix the description, senses and emotion that ended up lacking after I took out a bunch of telling bits (like my overuse of the words “felt” and “feels”). I wasn’t sure how to go about it, so I did the minor edit first. However, I think that will be the last edit and I’ll have something I can submit to agents.

But enough about me, back to the discussion on draft numbers, which is more just about my writing… so yeah. Since I started this novel, it might seem like I’ve done tons of drafts for it. That is not quite the case since it took me 2 years to finish the first draft, and I didn’t work on it for most of those 2 years. The second draft also took about 2 years due to distractions and working on other novel projects.

The other question to consider in talking about draft numbers is what to qualify as a draft. First draft is easy cause you go from a blank piece of paper, or that white screen in whatever writing program of your choice, to a whole and very rough novel. Beyond that it gets tricky. Sure, the rewrite from first person to third person, where it gained over 25,000 words, that was a more obvious other draft. However, do I consider the minor edit a whole new draft? Not much has changed, just little rewordings here and there. In fact, I didn’t even make a new folder in Scrivener for this edit. Before the minor, I did an edit where I worked on fixing issues like passive voice, telling and switched things to past tense. That was one I could easily consider a new draft (also increased word count by almost 15,000 with that edit). The minor edit, however, I just fixed up the already existing draft section. According to scrivener, I have 3 drafts and a whole file of edit notes which involved highlighting every chapter with things to fix before draft 3 was created. Three sounds short, yet it feels like so much more.

If I count the minor edits and such, the draft total will end up at 5 (so far). Granted, if picked up for publication there will be more drafts. Not picked up could mean later, if continuing with the novel & series, then another draft or two would be needed. Even with self-publishing, which I have no intention to do at this given time, would require another edit/draft. So 5 is the midpoint for this particular project. Not all will be the same.  I have one NaNoWriMo project that I know needs a complete rewrite. However, I have another novel that is at 90k right now and I will be skipping the major rewrite stage for that one and editing instead. So, for me, like most, the answer so far to the question of how many drafts it takes to get a send-able story is: it varies.

Roughly how many drafts do you do before submitting?
What do you consider a draft?