Monday, October 15, 2007

How many drafts?

First, a picture:

Now the explanation. The red folder at the bottom contains dozens and dozens of outlines. The green folder contains my ideas for the novel.

The manila folder on top of those contains the 110,000 word Hal 4 draft dated 16th of August, and it was the first I was prepared to print out after writing the book on-screen for five months. Every single page of that draft has editing marks like these:

The next folder contains the second draft, dated 27th of August. The pages are even more hacked about than the first draft, and after putting in those changes I submitted the novel to my editor.

The folder on top of that one is the printout my editor handed back. I put a red tab on each chapter beginning so I could find & address her comments.

The next one is my fourth draft, now slimmed down to 94,000 words or so, and the fifth draft (88,000 words) sits on top in the final manila folder.

Now we get into the loose pages - chapter by chapter printouts which I'd edit, then print again. The A5 sized printout buried in there is a copy of the draft I received back from a first reader, who gave me lots to think about. Then another draft, and sitting right on top is the ARC I gave my wife to read.

And just in case you think there's less work in the later drafts, here's a page I was working on last night, barely 24 hours before the manuscript had to be handed in:

and the reverse ...

In total you're looking at the editing I've done over the past eight weeks, not including additional changes on-screen. Bear in mind ALL that editing took place AFTER I'd written the first draft.

A novel isn't ready for publication after you finish the first draft. No sir.

EDIT: Not everyone goes this wild. In fact, Holly Lisle has an article from the opposite end of the scale: One-Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


Anonymous said...

Are these books for sale in the USA? If not, how can I obtain a copy?

Simon Haynes said...

Yes - Powell's Books and good old Amazon.

Not cheap, though - they're imported from Australia, and our dollar has sky-rocketed in value recently.

Glenda said...

Ah, that's a shame as I truly enjoyed the first 5 chapters of your first book. :( I'll look into the cost tho and see. :) Do you know if you are going to be published here in the USA soon or are you even looking into it?

Simon Haynes said...

US publishers were approached, but they wanted to see the book do well in England first. So, I signed with a British agent (007, har har), and he's trying to get publishers interested there. They'll probably say they want to see the books do well in Canada first, or something, and on it goes.
Oh well, on the bright side at least they're doing well here in Australia!

David Forbes said...

Simon, you are a revision-happy fool! :) I am not nearly so exuberant in my editing, especially in later drafts. I usually go through two rounds of major editing before it goes to the publisher.

Good luck with Hal 4 and getting some overseas rights!


Simon Haynes said...

Trust me, all that editing says more about my first draft than anything else.

I like to leave the first draft loose and sloppy, because I'm still shaping the finished book through all those other stages. (I do outline, but don't force myself to stick to it.)

Also, writing humour means polishing gags, tightening dialogue and extracting the most from supposedly funny scenes. Anyone not writing humour can cut out those four additional drafts, at least!

Maprilynne said...

That's very impressive! Good luck!