Before I begin, I wrote this whole thing out this morning, pressed save as draft and guess what post did not save as a draft? Yeah. So if it feels a bit more dry or to the point than my usual posts, I apologize. And if you prefer it like that, tell me, because I’m great at accidentally losing drafts!
This post isn’t about how I edit (I’m sure I’ll do that eventually), it’s more about how much I edit and specifically how that changes depending on what I’m writing.
So I measure how much I edit by drafts a lot of the time, but that isn’t entirely accurate because there are drafts and then are drafts. When I’m writing a book, I write a first draft, I write it carelessly and without looking back, then I start over for my second draft. That’s what I’m going to refer to as a solid draft, when I write the whole thing out again.
For my third draft onwards I’ll usually be editing the second draft, editing could involve cutting out whole paragraphs and writing them again, but I’m not starting from zero. This is what I will call a soft draft.
Now, organized from most to least drafts:
1.- A to be sold book. At this time, that’s just Dear Dragon and the next books coming up in that series. People pay money to read this, so it has to be good. And what each person considers good can be relative, for me, it’s generally around seven to nine drafts. Two solid drafts and the rest soft drafts. My first book took me about twoooo yeeeears (voice full of hesitation), technically three but with long hiatuses in between and… it’s a mystery for the ages, I’ll be honest. The point is, lots of editing, lots of work. Obviously you aren’t going to put as much time into every work you do.
2.- A not be sold book. So, because I’m one hundred per cent incapable of doing a single project at a time, sometime after my beta readers received Dear Dragon, I started to write another shorter novel, it was an idea I’d had running through my head for about two years or so, and I just wanted it out.
I knew this wasn’t going to be anywhere near the quality of Dear Dragon, if only because I was nowhere near as in love with the idea. So as to not put pressure on myself I thought, I’ll upload it to Wattpad, it’s a social media site for writing, maybe I can get my writing noticed a bit before publishing my actual novel…
I’ll do a post about the different social media sites and being an author on social media at a later date. Once I feel like I know what I have to say because… I have a lot to say.
But anyway, it’s going to be free, but it’s still a proper little stand alone micro-novel. How many drafts? Three. In my case, three. It was a solid first draft, solid second and soft third draft. It took me about a year with long hiatuses in between because as said previously, it just wasn’t high on my priority list.
It’s complete from today (if I’m doing the maths right because I don’t publish these on the same day I write them)! Check it out.
I recommend binging it because that’s how you get the most out of the small details.
3.- Chaptered stories that don’t stand alone. I actually have two stories that fit into this category: Oppida Institute for Reformation and Love, Coffee and Dragons. They are both prequel series to my main book series Dear Dragon.
Now, I do less editing in these then I will a not for sale novel, BUT, I do a lot more plot related editing. What do I mean by that? I spent a lot of time double checking timelines, maps, general continuity. See, because this takes place before the main series, a lot of it affects the main series, so I have to be cautious not to make any mistakes.
In both I do a solid first draft and a soft draft, in this soft draft I mainly work on catching any grammar mistake, touch up on fluidity and double check timelines and maps.
For Love, Coffee and Dragons I write my first draft in word and then edit it another day in Hemingway.
For Oppida Institute for Reformation I will export it from word to my iPad, edit it by hand and then go to Hemingway to pass those edits on. This means I read through my draft about three times instead of two. Mainly because the plot elements affect the main series more than Love, Coffee and dragons which is, what I call an emotional support story (I’ll probably do a post about what I mean by that… later).
These both probably take me a couple of weeks for each Act, which will be somewhere between five and fifteen chapters. I upload each chapter once a week so. That works well.
Because everything I just mentioned is in the universe of Dear Dragon (beginning to think I need to branch out a bit) my editing is mostly double checking everything is properly placed on the timeline (guess I should do a post about how I write and keep track of the timelines, huh?). I revise grammar but don’t tend to go over fluidity as much as the other stories.
Because there one-shots are usually low stakes and more just an exploration of something simple, such as the terrifying feeling of not knowing where your parents are at the market, they usually are written and edited the same day or not long after.
5.- Blog Posts. So, this. Before here I used to do some writing tip posts on my site, I also have my personal tumblr where I usually ramble on about existentialism and whatever comes to mind. For these posts I write them (solid first draft) and then I read them over, add in links, make things bold and try to catch as many typos as possible. I probably don’t catch all of them and often click edit if I spot one.
But that’s fine, because I’m trying to upload one a day, so it’s not supposed to be this high quality experience. It’s just me trying to share the most useful bits and bobs from my own experience.
This takes me probably an hour or so depending a lot on the article.
So, did you get anything out of this post? I’d not heard anybody talk about the difference in effort you put into different works and thought it might be interesting, but in retrospect maybe nobody talks about it because it’s precisely the opposite. You tell me! Feedback and criticism helps me know what I should be putting more time into.