One, Two, Three...

A one...A two...A one, two, three...

One of the best parts about embracing my author life more fully is that I get to talk to more writers more of the time, and as anyone who has ever talked to me about writing can attest to, I absolutely LOVE to "talk shop."

Recently a friend and fellow writer (and ex-student) asked me about the number of drafts I put into my novels.

My first novel, Whatever you Make of It, went through about 10 drafts before I was ready to let it go, but since then I've significantly streamlined the process. Now it is down to three drafts.

First Draft is me writing/typing the novel. There are days when it is as if my characters are acting out their scenes and my job is to just transcribe, be quiet, and keep the hell up. Words go down on paper in a blur and I don't shower for days. I've eaten only what I can shove into my face with my left hand, my wrist brace is on my right hand, and I just shut off my brain and my critics and I just write and then type and POOF, the word count multiplies and what started as an opening scene, now has scenes and chapters and rising action and an actual plot...and I haven't read a word of it.

Second Draft -- First Edit So here's where I actually become aware of the words I wrote and typed. This is where I do more than just watch and record my characters acting out the scenes. This is where I actually read my novel. Now some of you may be questioning that. "What does she mean, she's just now reading her novel, didn't she write the damn thing?" To be honest, during the creation phase, if it went well, I have very little awareness of the events of the story. I just filled pages with words from my pretty pen. Now in the second draft, I make notes as I read for details and consistency. Oh, she had two brothers in chapter 3...hmm, where did this 3rd brother come from in Chapter 17? Oh, oops...I changed Jyn's name to Steve. Yeah, people might notice that...this is where I make changes and type them up.

Third Draft -- Final read-through This is where I read the story out loud, check for how the story SOUNDS. Are character voices distinct without tags after every line? (He said. She said. He said. She said.) Does the conversation sound like people (not English teachers) talk? Is the swearing level appropriate? Is the sex adding to the plot and believable? Here I fix any remaining grammar rules -- we can bend the rules -- we can't disregard them completely.

And then it's done, unless I discover a plot hole or the beginning needs to be stronger or I wake up in the middle of the night with a better ending line...but then it's time to click send.