How Many Drafts Does It Take?

When I first started writing, I often wondered how many drafts it would take me to “complete” my manuscript. Before I could submit it places for publication, how many drafts would I have to write, edit, rewrite, and the like? Of course, the more I wrote, the more I realized there’s no true answer to how many drafts does it take to write a novel?

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My First Manuscript

I completed the first draft of my very first novel back in 2010. It’s been nine years and I don’t even know how long since I last touched it. I still have the manuscript and I’m on the eighth draft. It’s still not done. At this point, it will never be done.

Being the first novel I had ever written, I know it’s not going to see the light of day. I’m not even sure if I like the idea enough to ever go back to it and try to rewrite the story. Maybe someday I’ll share some bits of it, but today is not that day.

I Thought I Needed A Lot Of Drafts

Of course, that particular novel had a lot of drafts because I didn’t know much of what I was doing. I thought it needed to be perfect, which there is no such thing. I also thought that having multiple drafts and a crap ton of ink-filled paper meant that I was a “real writer.” That novel wasn’t a manuscript unless I had a handful of stacks of that same manuscript riddled with black and red ink.

But you don’t need a lot of drafts. You just need as many as you think it will take to tell the story at a polished level. When do you know it’s polished? That’s harder to tell because we all strive for the novel to be as perfect as can be.

It Depends On Style And Genre Too

I write mostly novels. I have written a couple of novellas. I have written short stories and compiled them into a collection. I’ve even written poetry and scripts. I find the longer it is, the more drafts you may have. You can’t catch everything in one sitting.

I was on my second or third draft of George Florence and the Perfect Alibi before I rewrote the whole book with a POV change. Now I’m on the third or fourth draft of that. So, you figure all together I have about six or seven drafts of that manuscript. Meanwhile, my novellas on Wattpad only took one round of edits.

It’s All Up To You

Whatever you think you’re novel needs, do it. Just don’t overdo it.

How many drafts do your novels typically take until they’re complete? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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What Exactly Is The First Draft?

The first draft is something everyone seems to dread. How do you start? How long will it take? The blank page can really take a toll on you and your creativity. But what exactly is the first draft? What does it mean? There’s a lot more to first drafts than we give them credit for.

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What is the first draft?

It is, more or less, what it sounds like. It’s the very first draft of an idea. It’s out of your head and now it’s on paper. Except, a lot of people seem to think that the first draft is the hard part. And it is for some, but it all comes down to this: the first draft is just you telling yourself the story.

There’s no right or wrong. There’s no need to edit. There’s no need to get it all perfect the first time. Some elements of the first draft may stay, but most of it may get edited out later. You’re just beginning your journey, getting to know your characters, and getting a feel for your plot. As you write the first draft, you’ll get new ideas. You’ll find plot holes. You may realize one character has a larger purpose than you originally intended.

Do I have to write a first draft?

Uh, yeah? I mean, if you don’t write a first draft, then you’ll never start. Unless you’re a master procrastinator and don’t want to start, then no. Don’t bother writing that first draft.

Does the first draft have to be complete?

No, I don’t think so. I have a few novels on their x-amount of drafts and there are a few of them where the first draft isn’t complete. It definitely helps if the first draft is completed so you have a well thought out plot or novel. Even if it’s all gibberish. However, I sometimes don’t have the inspiration to finish the first draft. By the time I get to the end or even sometimes the middle, the characters are so vastly different and my ideas for the plot no longer make sense with what I originally started off with. So, I leave the first draft as is and start on my second draft without even bothering to edit. It’s like draft 1.5.

The first draft is the best draft.

Why? Because it helps you get started. And I think we all know that getting started is the hardest step of anything.

What do first drafts mean to you? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this post, please share it around!

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