I’m doing my last read-through edit before sending to beta readers. I’m on page 260/684.
I’m willing to bet that at least some of you reading this are thinking something like, “Scott sucks at writing books. Why does it take him so long?”
Writing a book is quite interesting. And by interesting, I mean hard. Mentally, emotionally, and even physically, it’s a lot harder than I anticipated.
I’ve read of authors whose first draft is also their final draft. When I started writing five or so years ago, I thought that seemed doable. Now, however, I think that’s amazeballs. My book has gone through at least ten drafts already, though I don’t work linearly and keeping track of distinct drafts is therefore difficult.
I love lists, so that’s how I’ll summarize how my drafts have gone, and how I imagine the future ones will go:
- Initial concept
- This involved a lot of brainstorming, day dreaming, doodling, etc.
- I am not a fan of extensive outlining and support material. I have hundreds of pages of info on my world and characters, but they are not cohesive at all. I ended up with the equivalent of a five page outline of the plot lines, maybe a page or two on each character, and I went to town.
- First Draft
- Hooboy. This was actually a lot of fun. When I put fingers to keyboard, I found satisfaction. It’s really a neat thing to find something you love and unleash yourself.
- About a thousand random changes
- I killed characters. I deleted characters. I completely changed the setting of my story. I changed character relationships. Some changes were calculated, and some just felt right. But Jibbers Crabst, I changed a lot of things.
- These changes slowed me down. A lot. It was kind of demoralizing, but in the end, I felt like I got it right.
- Damn it, I still didn’t get it right
- As I wrote, some things were bogging me down so badly that I “backlogged” things to a future-edit list. I had to go back and fix a lot of things.
- This felt more or less like fixing up a favorite car. I knew it would be worth it, But hey, my engineering degree was basically five years of me doing hard things that I didn’t want to do, so I was well prepared.
- Read-through edit (where I am right now)
- At this point, I’ve edited most parts of my book several times. This is because the edits from my list (see above) were not minor, and generally consisted of me editing major elements that spanned the entire book. I’m still changing hundreds of things in each chapter that bother me as I read through. Style, grammar, flow, and consistency are the largest culprits.
- Beta reader feedback edits
- Agent feedback edits (post coming on why I feel an agent is in my best interest)
- Editor feedback edits
There you have it. I’m sure my process will change over time. I sure as hell hope that I’ll get better at it with each book I write. But even though it was a ton of work with no sure payoff, it feels really good to have completed (mostly) my first book.