Today, I’m going to offer you some advice about how many drafts you should have before you consider sending out your full manuscript to a publishing company.
I consider the magic number to be 3: Three full-length drafts and let me tell you why.
Draft One: Getting it Down
Your very first draft should be focused on just getting your writing out of your head and down on paper. In this draft, I encourage you to just write. Do not focus on getting it perfect, or saying everything you need to say.
Create the bones of your manuscript.
Or, in other words, consider it the road map for the rest of your drafts. This first draft is all about getting your words on paper and it will be messy, it will be disorganized, it will not be perfect. And guess what, it shouldn’t be. However, this is very important: this is NOT an outline. This first draft should be a whole and complete draft with plot lines and developed characters. When I say this is the bones of your manuscript, you should still include the entire skeleton.
Draft Two: Buffing it Out
After “completing” your first draft (meaning that the bones of your manuscript are present and arranged), it is time to start adding the “meat” (the muscles, sinews, and veins, etc.). Draft Two can be accomplished on your own or with a friend or writing colleague. I personally believe that it is beneficial to have outside opinion for this draft. What I do, is I send my Draft One to friends and receive BETA reader comments. What needs flushing out? What drags? What doesn’t make sense, etc.? Once I have their comments, I comb back through my first draft and begin addressing both their comments and add in my own.
As I am going through, thinking about their comments and my own, I REWRITE (yes you heard me), REWRITE the entire manuscript. I open up a new blank screen next to my first draft and I RETYPE everything. (Next week I’ll be sharing a blog post as to why I REWRITE instead of Editing). After this, you should have a completed, flushed out draft, but you’re not done yet.
Draft Three: Cleaning it Up
Once you have completed crafting your narrative (it has bones, and muscle, and skin), it’s time to make it pretty! If hardcore editing is not your thing, ask for outside help whether that means the family member who is an English major or paying for grammar edits. Trust me, nothing lowers the quality of a good book faster than bad grammar. This is your one chance to impress a publishing company, so spend some time (and maybe *some* money) improving your manuscript until it shines.
Well, there you have it: my three-draft rule!
What do you think? Is three drafts too many or too little? Be sure to comment below!
***Extra Tip: It is okay to have some time take place between Draft One and Draft Two, distance can be a good thing for your own writing! It can give you perspective.
Happy Writing Everyone!
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