What Happens After This Draft? – My Revision Process

As I approach the end of my next Paradisa draft, I’m already thinking about the steps that will follow. “Spell check it and send it off to beta readers!” says the village fool. Actually, completing a draft is just the first step – a few other “semi-drafts” will follow, plus a heck of a lot of re-reading.

There are a few types of drafts that I operate in at separate times. That seems like it takes too long, but trying to accomplish all of these tasks at once is just too much to me – I would get stuck on the same page for weeks, picking it apart, when I should be writing the rest of the book. So, splitting it into multiple steps is a much more refined process.

1. The Rewrite. A rewrite is a draft that is formed from a new outline. This is absolutely the roughest draft to slug through, because it basically requires me to write a new book (or a third of one, at least.) Unlike many authors, I do not start with a completely new document, riffing from a completely new outline, utterly ignoring all words used in the previous draft. I do pull massive amounts of content – all I can pull, really – from my last attempt. But when you want Plot Point A to occur three chapters before it did in the last draft, and when you want to separate your characters into two all-new locations for the big mid-book fight scene, and when you want to totally restructure your ending…there’s a lot of new content to be whipped up. This is honestly why Draft Five has taken me 4+ months. I am not only rearranging and cannibalizing so much of the existing text, but I’m adding over 30,000 words of new scenes.

2. The Big Picture Revision. Once a rewrite is done (assuming it was needed in the first place – hopefully 5 will be the last real ‘rewrite’ I do, and that all future edits will be minor), I reread my draft on my tablet. Reading as an ebook gets me into the mental state of a reader. Contrarily, reading it as an editable computer document makes me too much of an editor. I do keep a notebook beside me though, documenting all character, plot, pacing, continuity, setting, and structural issues with the novel. Does each scene have a purpose? Does each scene end on a cliffhanger? Does each scene begin in a way that sets the reader into the scene? Does the novel have a good hook?

Now that I’m past my first beta round, I will also revisit my previous critiques during this stage. I will make sure that all valid concerns from my betas have been addressed in the rewrite. When I’m happy with my re-read, I will annotate my Word doc with comments pertaining to all these concerns.

3. The Seasoning. This is where I trudge through and address all the comments. Sometimes it means changing some dialogue in a scene. Sometimes it means deleting or swapping a scene. The most “writing” I’ll do at this stage is to add paragraphs clarifying intent and setting, or to build pacing.

After this, another reread. Steps 2 and 3 may need to be repeated, depending on how much I like the new version of the book.

4. The Style Revision. I have yet to do a style revision for any previous draft. Now, I feel that the book is ready for a line-by-line analysis, in which I make sure every word is used to its full potential and all lines are my own. Ditch the clichés, ditch the redundancy, ditch the awkward phrasing. My style is very functional and inelegant right now – I have yet to regain the naturally beautiful way I wrote as a teenager (which I swear is due to my lack of reading in recent years, but hey, I’m working on that part!) Until I can turn on good style at a whim, this is the gritty alternative.

5. The Copyedit. Just for grammatical and typographical errors. This is my final read through before other humans see the book.

So basically, five ‘drafts’ in one! I will probably start considering this Draft Six around step 3 though.

And while some may warn me of over editing, fear not – as I said, this is my very first time editing style at all, and that is where over editing rears its ugly potential. I don’t think one can go wrong by making the story a more enjoyable one. I’m kicking myself a bit for taking five drafts to get where the plot needs to be, but part of me knows those previous four trials were all necessary. It’s like a scavenger hunt – you can’t jump to the end until you’ve found all the clues.

I do hope to start Beta Round Two in the spring, but you can see I have a lot of work ahead ;) I feel like it’ll all be downhill once I finish the rewrite though. Ugh. Rewrites really are the hardest part.

What is your editing process like? Do you revise your novel in multiple ways at once or break it down into steps?

Who Do I Want To Be In 2015?

I am almost halfway through my “12 Days of Christmas”, aka the amount of days I took off work. I was hoping to use this time to finish Draft Five of Paradisa, but haven’t written much yet. Austin and I have had five Christmases since Tuesday and we’re gearing up for a sixth at the end of this week.

So today was my first semi-reasonable day for writing, but I was stuck with a headache for most of the day. ALAS! So the rest of tonight, Monday, and Tuesday will hopefully be my writing marathon days. I have about 24 scenes left to complete, 6 of which have to be written from scratch. I’m shooting for Beta Round 2 beginning February 1st. We shall see!

But this leads me to other stuff I’ve mulled about during my extended break. The new year is coming. Even if you are against “New Year’s Resolutions,” I think we all have high hopes for what the next cycle around the sun will bring. What we can accomplish. What can make us happy. I am shocked to say that in 2014, I went from a half-finished first draft to a nearly finished fifth draft of my maiden novel. I feel like it’s been longer but…I guess it has only been a year! Now, I also wished that I was querying by now, but I think I can say that goal looks promising for 2015.

Probably autumn of 2015, but 2015 nonetheless.

I think that it’s best to approach each new year with prospects of who we will be rather than what we will do. I would like to be an author of a finished novel by the end of 2015. I would like to be an agented author by the end of 2015. I would like to be a published short story author. I would like to be a successful cosplayer. I want to be a drummer. I want to be a business owner. I want to be a home owner. I want to love how I look and feel. I want to be an avid reader.

If I get any closer to any of those states of being, I consider it a successful year. It’s not about pass/fail accomplishments on a bucket list. It’s about making one New Year’s resolution, the same resolution, every single year – never grow complacent.

Best of luck to us all in 2015, as we continue to grow and develop our crafts. I hope to be blogging more frequently soon, once I get past the editing stage and have more interesting things to talk about again ;)