Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Drafts, redrafts, edits...

It's that time again. I've written a first draft, organised a rough second draft, then comes the agony that is the structural edit. Normally, I leave this for a number of months. That bit of distance means I can come to it fresh, and I can see what needs doing (hopefully). But I don't have time. I want to get this third draft off to my agent, where she will cast her wise eye over it and point out where it needs work, help or CPR. So I gave it to my son and he has done a magnificent job of giving me fantastic feedback on where it isn't working. (I especially like the bits where I think I have been especially poetic and he puts a line through it with the crisp comment "literary wankfest"). So, having worked out what's wrong with it (not enough crime, too much archaeology, whiny lead character, no suspense and a thin ending) I have to put it right. I'm giving myself seven working days and possibly the weekend in between. This is going to be a slog, but in a way it's invigorating. I feel like a proper author with deadlines and so on!

One of the advantages of working like this is I should be able to hold the complete book in my head by the end of it, so the edits will be much easier to do and follow through. I need a whole new plot strand so that will feed into the historical strand and a couple of my characters don't follow through.

The downside is it's full on and tiring and I was hoping to spend some time away before the winter (in our caravan) and we're doing our kitchen at the same time. No pressure then. 

A fellow writer asked the other day about how many drafts I do. Actually, it's eight or ten, and I hope that isn't discouraging because the later redrafts don't take all that long. The first draft takes me the longest, and I probably only have 50-60k words. The second draft is where I write all the linking chapters, get the main plot strands down and weld it into a sort of book. Then a solid structural edit starts to make the book ready for my lovely agent. I'm still substantially rewriting at this point and the book grows to around 100k words. This is the biggest edit, and I will read it aloud right through to make more changes. My agent will come back with more structural edits and I'll work on it again before the editor sees it. So she will get draft 4 or 5 at least. I'll work on her suggestions, that will be draft 6, there may be another round of tweaks but this will only take me a week or two. Then the copy edit will need a complete tidy up, sorting out repetitions, clumsy dialogue and wording, adding necessary description etc. I'll probably tweak further after the proof edit but this will just be words here and there. One final read through out loud and it's as ready as it will be. That's a lot of work. This publishing malarkey is a lot of work. So I'd better get on with it!