Drafting a new novel can be overwhelming, but I find if you break it up, it helps to alleviate some of the pressure and put your focus where it needs to be.
Step One: The Creative Draft. For some, the creative draft is strictly flow. However, for me, I like to have an aqueduct (aka making my plot structure and doing research beforehand) directing my creative flow to make the next draft less work.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of giving your creativity a fighting chance through plotting out your story. It can take an absorbent amount of time going back in the editing stage if you do not focus your creativity. It’s easy to create a plot, but as a recovering pantser, I know the temptation of just letting the muse take over. The sad thing is, waiting on the muse is a lie. You have to wrestle creativity into submission. You don’t have time to wait around until it decides to get flowing! Click here to find out how you can capture the muse!
If you get bogged down with trying to meet your word count, try this one easy writer’s hack: micro outlining. Click here to find out how to consistently double your word count with micro outlining.
Step Two: The Editing Draft. After the creativity is captured on the page, it is time to get to work. This is the hardest draft as it requires us to put our creativity in the back seat and allow the editor to take the wheel. Here, you have to decide what stays, what goes, what works and what doesn’t or what is shaky by printing it out, grabbing your red pen and going line by line through your manuscript.
What to look for: cliché words or phrases, grammar, punctuation, etc.
Ask yourself: Does the plot structure work? Are there holes in my story? And if so, how do I fill them?
When to bring in the beta readers: If you need help with the plot structure or need to know if something works or not, I like to finish up my editing draft and then send it to my beta readers. This way, they can help me catch something I overlooked before I reach the “final” drafting stage.
Once you have their edits and suggestions, implement or discard them and move on to the final stage.
Step Three: The Polishing Draft. Hypothetically, this should be much easier than the editing draft, which hopefully caught all the annoying clichés and mistakes. Again, you will need to print it out and go line by line, editing and polishing it until it feels ready to go to your agent.
For more on how to get your story from “finished” to “ready,” click here.
Return of the beta readers: If you have another set of beta readers, or if one or two volunteer to read your book again, send them the polished draft and get their feedback before you send it to your agent!
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