Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Life After Draft One

Now what?

I wrote it. I read it. It's good but it needs fixing.

And right now, I have no idea how to fix it.

What I'd really like to do is take a two week cruise with nothing but a stack of books to read and forget all about it.

I know every writer has a unique way to tackle this problem. This is the hardest spot for me--facing 86,000 freshly strung-together words, all of which need to be revised. How long do you let a first draft rest before you start revision? And then what do you do first?



  1. Every answer you get will be different. I think the standard rule of thumb is to not touch it or read it for a month. I've never been that disciplined though. :-)

  2. I've tried all kinds of things, and what I now do is just move on to the next project to wipe my brain clean before I tackle the rewrites. Time doesn't matter anywhere near as much as emotional distance.

  3. I try to get distance from it - the more the better - but it's hard. And I start with structural changes, as much as my internal editor would like to go fix up all the messes. :)

  4. One month? Shannon, that would be hard.

    Unless, as Emily suggests, I take on the next project instead...

    And I know what you mean about emotional distance. As I was reading it yesterday I thought, "I like this book wa-a-a-y too much to see it objectively."

    Sue, I think that's good advice. I can create my "story threads" chart and make my retro-outline so my favorite revision tools will be ready when I've achieved emotional distance.

  5. Distance is good. It gives you fresh eyes, and backbone to kill your baby, so to speak. I used to hate heading into the first revision, but now I like it. The fifth--not so much. But each round makes the story better. :) Maybe one day I won't need so many. Ha ha. Yeah, right. :)

    Congrats on finishing it! I'm doing the happy dance for you.

  6. Aim for a month and try to last as long as you can before it starts burning you to get back to it :-)

    Write something differnt, maybe a short story for a competition.

    The answers will come when you leat expect them.

  7. Depends on deadlines, really. But best would be at least two weeks I'd say. TO get all the preoccupations and ideas out and be able to start fresh.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  8. Hooray! Huge congratulations are in order!! And that's an excellent question. Last year, I read Stephen King's book "On Writing," and he recommends 4-6 weeks. I'd never done that. So my NaNoWriMo story is still untouched since I finished it the end of November. I have to confess that it's not on purpose. I had another book I was doing revisions on that I set aside to do NaNo, and now I'm working on that. But this whole time, my brain keeps coming up with thoughts for how to fix my NaNo book. I'm kinda liking the emotional distance, though, because I think I'll be more rational when I re-read it. We'll see how it goes. I'd love to hear what you decide and how it works out!

  9. Well, I can't speak for novels, but when I finish a short story, I usually let it sit for about a week before I go back to it and treat it like a story from my class. Flash Fiction sits for a few days. A poem can sit anywhere from a few hours to a few days (I don't write poetry that often). I can easily distance myself from it because on top of writing, I have a lot of homework to finish as well.

  10. Okay, so I decided to write one scene from another story I'd brainstormed, something completely different from anything I've ever tried.

    So refreshing! And fun! Just the diversion I needed.

  11. Playing a few hours of video games also wipes the mind beautifully, or er... so I've heard ;-)


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