Amber Skye Forbes

Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes

How Many Drafts Do I Write?

So I am very sick as I am writing this. Out of nowhere a cold decided to hit me in the face at work, and now I have chills, body aches (which fibro intensifies), a sore throat, and an aching head. But I’m determined to get this post out. I have no idea when I’ll slow down on the blogging. Probably once I run out of ideas or something. Or once I really hunker down with When Stars Die revisions.

In any case, I hate writing first drafts. Because I hate them, I just make the first draft a glorified detailed outline, writing whatever spews forth from my mind. I’ll put major revision notes in the margins, but I’ll just get the skeleton of the story down and reserve the second draft for putting some meat and skin on that skeleton.

Back in my younger years, I would have to do lots and lots of drafts because I was never satisfied with my writing, and for good reason: My gut was trying to tell me I just wasn’t mature enough, but I wanted to plow through to prove you don’t need age to have stellar writing. Well, generally you do. Even teens who become published have immature aspects in their novels, but they’re marketable enough that it doesn’t seem to matter.

When Stars Die took five drafts to get it to this point because I did start it as a fifteen-year-old. I suppose that isn’t a whole lot compared to how many it could have been, but I did shelve it for several years before finally deciding to bring it back out. I am on the seventh read-through of When Stars Die (the last two were proofreading, so no re-writes). Surprisingly I’m not tired of it yet.

When Stars Die is my first, truly complete novel (before AEC Stellar starts hacking it apart). My hope is that with Stolentime, I can revise on the second draft, have someone read it, and have the third draft be strong enough to send out and hopefully get contracted by AEC Stellar. Or another company is fine too. Whatever happens, right?

Truth is, now that I am more mature with my writing, I have no idea how many drafts Stolentime will have to go through. Of course I can improve with my writing; we can always improve with everything. But I’m hoping for three. Seriously. Fingers crossed.

So how many drafts do you average?


11 comments on “How Many Drafts Do I Write?

  1. laekanzeakemp
    May 5, 2013

    I average at least 4, usually 5. I start with a rough draft, the second draft is re-writes, the third is a thorough line edit after which I send the MS to my alpha readers and then use their feedback on the fourth draft which I then send to beta readers whose feedback assists with the fifth and usually final draft. It’s a long process that usually takes me about 8 months but that’s what works for me!

  2. Charles Yallowitz
    May 5, 2013

    I keep seeing people mention 10-20 drafts. My first book was about 20 because I worked on it for 10 years. It wasn’t getting picked up by agents, so I kept editing until I had to do a complete overhaul and fix what I did. Now, I’ve got it down to 4-5 drafts. I re-read what I wrote the day before, do a hand version with a printed copy, do a digital revision as I type in the changes, and do a final revision after my wife reads it and gives me her notes. I possibly go through another time to fix a few things just before release, but that’s more of a gloss-over.

    • amberskyef
      May 5, 2013

      I had no idea! That’s perseverance right there.

      • Charles Yallowitz
        May 5, 2013

        Thanks. Though, most people think it’s a form of insanity. 😉

      • amberskyef
        May 5, 2013

        Aren’t all writers insane to a certain extent?

      • Charles Yallowitz
        May 5, 2013

        Yup. Part of our charm.

  3. lossforwords360
    May 5, 2013

    So far I’m,up to three, but I know I’m going to need one, possibly two more. You always find something new each time that you can fix or change. It kind of drives me a crazy.

  4. deeannfrye
    May 5, 2013

    Hi Amber, I’ve just nominated you for the Sunshine Award! You can get the details here, 🙂

  5. Get well soon !

  6. Shay Dee
    May 7, 2013

    9 before I realised I had to put it down. But that was draft for every year, and every year my writing kept getting better, so I’d look back at it with fresh eyes and new knowledge and have to change it!

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