Endless Summer (of Polishing)

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Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby Quill » 06 Aug 2011, 22:50

Sixth draft and I'm still fixing, smoothing, improving tone and flow, heightening tension, increasing believability, strengthening characterization, solidifying perspective, and developing the voice.

One more draft after this. And that's just before my readers see it!

How many drafts does it take?

Why is good writing so difficult?
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby Sanderling » 07 Aug 2011, 06:11

I can relate to that! My work hasn't gone through quite so many, but it's getting there. Four drafts before it went off to readers; a fifth, of course, when it comes back.

I read on Kiersten White's blog that Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door took at least 18 drafts!

Another author whose blog I read, Sandra Gulland, says her current WIP is on pass five and will need at least one more before her publisher even sees it, and then probably at least two more after they do.

I guess it takes as many as it takes. Writing's like anything - anyone can pick up a pen (keyboard), just like anyone can pick up a guitar, or a hammer, but it's only through a lot of hard work that you really start to get to the good stuff. And for some people, and for some pieces of work, it requires more hard work than others.
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby MattLarkin » 09 Aug 2011, 09:02

I think I did four drafts before my first reader saw it. Then another for the first reader. Then another for the next few readers. So that would be six.
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby Claudie » 09 Aug 2011, 13:16

I'm on the fourth draft of my current WIP, and it'll need a solid edit before I let anyone read it. I fully expect to need 7-8 drafts before I can call it done. I kind of hope they won't all need 3-4 months. XD
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby Quill » 09 Aug 2011, 13:28

I hand wrote the first draft many years ago, totally pantsed it. And then put it away, because I knew I didn't have the writing chops at the time to render it into the finished form I envisioned.

I typed it into the computer in 2005, rewriting the beginning.

Nov '09 - Mar '10 I put it through three revisions (heavy, medium, and light).

Now, Mar - Oct '11, I'm putting through three polish drafts (heavy, medium, light). Slow because I'm only writing weekends.

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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby JohnDurvin » 09 Aug 2011, 21:17

How many drafts does it take? As many as it takes. Honestly, I think a better question is "when should you not do another rewrite?" The answer, I believe, is when there is nothing that would improve the book by its addition or its subtraction; there is nothing left lingering in the back of your mind that maybe it would be better if you did it.
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby Sommer Leigh » 11 Aug 2011, 05:13

I edit as I write, so I don't know, a million drafts? I think that's about right.
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby AveryMarsh » 11 Aug 2011, 06:05

I also edit as I write and for each major edit, I make a new file going through the alphabet. Right now I'm on L. I'm glad I did it that way because it's interesting to line them up side by side and see how certain changes to the story or the backstory change the way the book flows from my original plan.

I still consider myself to be on the first draft, though, since I don't have a final first draft file saved anywhere. :oops:
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby polymath » 11 Aug 2011, 06:40

Quill wrote:Sixth draft and I'm still fixing, smoothing, improving tone and flow, heightening tension, increasing believability, strengthening characterization, solidifying perspective, and developing the voice.

One more draft after this. And that's just before my readers see it!

How many drafts does it take?

Why is good writing so difficult?

Some quite successful revenue-wise authors have a once and done writing process. They have a formula they work from, main features of which are sticking to solid structural concepts and high-concept premises and leaving anything that smacks of artistic merit out altogether. They occasionally fail on the latter. The subconscious will have its due, thus one of the most critical reasons for workshopping a narrative to insightful readers.

Good writing is difficult because fully realizing a creative vision goes hand in hand with creating how to best realize it. By way of example, Jack Kerouac spent nine years living the vita loca that became On the Road. He banged out a rough draft over a succession of weeks. Then four years developing the improvisational jazz voice that makes the novel sing. The novel's success owes as much to the voice as to how the voice fits thematically the social and cultural forces of the times. What could more represent the times than the new-found physical and social mobility the automobile offered than an improvisational musically poetic narrative about exploring a freestyle life on the road. Tha' so beat, man.
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby HillaryJ » 11 Aug 2011, 12:27

I'm at the point where I now do two drafts (what I call zero draft - getting the thing done - and first draft) before handing over to writers. I don't want to spend months agonizing over edits only to have a major issue (also known as Opportunity for Improvement) pointed out to me, which often happens, especially in my novel-length works. I do now edit as I go, which probably eliminates a couple of partial drafts.

I have set aside a few projects that I can't complete as I envision them, either because I haven't mastered a particular technique, or there is something seriously lacking (research, experience, originality). My current WIP is a project I set down about a year ago, and it's coming along nicely. Not sure what skill or knowledge I picked up in the meantime. :)
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby wilderness » 12 Aug 2011, 17:35

How many drafts? I'm currently only mid-way through the second. Considering going back and starting the third so I can get the first half on more solid ground before continuing. I'm guessing it will take 6-8 drafts but the last few will be faster.

Good luck Quill. Go go go!
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby alienbogey » 13 Aug 2011, 22:32

I'm almost done with the edit/polishing of my 10th draft, which will result in the 11th.
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Re: Endless Summer (of Polishing)

Postby delorfinde » 14 Aug 2011, 04:00

The most I've done so far is five, and then I'm working on the sequels in order to rewrite some stuff in that one to make them fit better, you know? My first drafts tend to be not absolutely awful, you can read them, they make sense, but there are still issues with plot and pacing and - definitely - incredibly amusing/humiliating typos and continuity errors!

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