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Reworking drafts is a big struggle with me. I would much rather the excitement of a new story! So when Stuart Horwitz wrote a post on how to finish your book with only three drafts you bet my ears perked up! So head on over to Jane Friedman‘s and check out the process.
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How to Finish Your Book in Three Drafts
by Stuart Horwitz
Have you ever asked yourself while writing, “How many drafts is this going to take?” That may seem like a question that can’t have an answer, but I would like to propose that it does. And that answer is three. Three drafts, provided that each draft is approached in the right spirit and we take the time we need between drafts.
Some writers assume that the difference between a first draft and a final draft is a few revisions and a solid copy edit. What I am talking about here is a process that requires more patience.
It probably already makes intuitive sense to you that you can’t work on more than one draft at a time. But here is the mantra for the process as a whole:
Know what draft you’re in.
Each draft plays by different rules, and knowing what draft you’re in can help you avoid writer’s block.
There is a literary myth that Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road in one draft—one Benzedrine- and marijuana-fueled draft—over a twenty-one-day period. It is true that he created a 120-foot roll of paper so that he wouldn’t have to stop to feed more paper into his typewriter, and wrote one of his drafts that way. But it turns out that he was working from a draft he already had in his journals. Also, if you look at that typewriter scroll closely, you can see all kinds of corrections; those corrections are, in effect, his third draft.
Three drafts, not one. Also: three drafts, not forty-nine. You may have heard this cute story about Oscar Wilde: His host asked him how his writing was going, and he said, “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma.” “And in the afternoon?” “In the afternoon—well, I put it back in again.” That doesn’t count as a draft. What you are trying to do is tackle your book, not tinker with it. Because—are you ready?—the point is not to go through life writing the same book the whole time.
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