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The Writing Process... or at least my drafting process.

Keep in mind the writing process is different for everyone.  I don't actually think there is a right or a wrong way to do this other than these two rules:

1) Write a little bit everyday.
2) Revise what you wrote a little bit everyday.

This advice is common--I'm not the first to say it by far (in fact, I think it was Stephen King or Anne Rice...) but ask any writer and their advice will basically boil down to those two points even if what they say dances around the subject a bit.

Because we do that for some reason.  Oh wait, it's because we play with words for a living...

I will find a way to do the above even if I'm no where near a computer--or paper, for that matter.  A smart phone or tablet with some sort of word processing or note taking... or even voice note taking... will suffice.  The most amusing way to do this is with one of those headsets that can't readily be seen that also remotely attaches to your smartphone via bluetooth.  People will think you're talking to yourself... kind of like a commercial I once saw a few years back (which I can no longer find on Youtube otherwise I would have posted it) when an older lady was having a chat on her cellphone using a bluetooth headset that was hidden by her hair.

The bigger picture here is taking those notes and creating a draft.  Here is where I tend to stray from the typical drafting process.

The first draft:

I will spew out words.  No, I mean this quite literally.  I get involved with NaNoWriMo every November, and the purpose is to throw down a draft in November.  The target is 50,000 words but I aim to complete--from start to finish--the entire first draft of any novel I have decided to start in any given November.

What normally happens, however, is I will manage to hit the target for NaNo... but not quite finish the entire first draft.  Close, but not quite.

Except the one year when I finished the entire first draft of After Oil in less than twenty days... yeah... I am amazed I remembered anything during November 2012.  I am sure there are some embarrassing as hell pictures and/or recordings during that time...

Draft 1.0... the real First Draft.

If I have not managed to finish the entire thing in November, I continue working on it--at the same pace--until every single last word is written as planned.  For After Oil, this happened to actually fall in November.  For The Last Iron Horse... I didn't get the actual first draft finished until midway through December.

Draft 1.5:  The Revised First Draft.

Not to be confused with the Second Draft, no, this is where I re-read the entire thing--beginning to end--and tweak and correct issues as I spot them.  Sometimes I add a little, sometimes I cut a little.  Things get tweaked.  I then compile the entire thing, print it, bind it and read it over again with a heavy dose of pencil & red ink.  This draft does not see the light of day, except for a few unlucky victims or trusted friends to hold a copy of it just in case the Great Erasure of 2014 happens again.

Once done, I go back to the computer with those notes, mine and those few others, and do a massive reworking of the entire draft--start to finish--before checking it all over again for basic issues and it becomes...

Draft 2.0 - The Second Draft.

This is a major milestone revision where things are beginning to take better form.  Nebulous ideas are fleshed out better, and other ideas get the axe.  The time line becomes pretty much set in stone, and I will update my Aion Timeline accordingly for future installments of the series (if it is a series) and to keep said time line straight for the novel in question.

However, this doesn't mean that the manuscript does not get read over again and then reworked--tightened--before another run through the spell checker & Autocrit.

It is here, at this milestone, where I send the draft out to the first "beta readers".  These readers will take 2.0 and read it over with a fresh set of eyes while paying attention to things a reader, not an editor, would notice.  Inconsistencies of plot, timeline... pacing and whether the first chapter, or even words, grab them and don't let go until the end.

I take a bit of a break here to let things just settle a bit on 2.0, but work on something else that is on a different stage of development... or I freelance for a bit.

Finally, after the beta's had a chance to go over everything, I take their notes... and my own again... and revise, rework... noticing a pattern yet?

Yes, writing is all about rewriting and revising.  Some find this to be a bit of a drag, but I don't.  Where else do you get to have second, if not third or even fourth chances, of reworking your own work?  Hell, if you wanted to you could revise and rework one manuscript for your entire life (I've done that too) while only releasing what you wanted to submit.

I digress.

(Coincidentally -- The Last Iron Horse happens to be in this stage)

Draft 2.5

This in between draft is basically where all the notes from reading the Second Draft are incorporated, if the suggestions work.  I will also at least try out different variations of a scene, especially if there was more than one suggestion for the same area just to see which one works.

Another rework, and another printing, and I take this draft to read it over for myself... as well as to back up my work.  Again... more red ink all over a stack of paper--and then back to the computer again to revise.

Draft 3.0

One last milestone draft--and once I have reworked 2.5 into this draft I print it.

I can hear you asking, Kristan, why do you print every draft?  Well, I ran into a serious issue a few years ago where the computers (it didn't seem to matter what one!) always ate my manuscript.  I always had to start over, or at least start from memory.  After the sixth time of losing a completed draft I started printing the milestones.

Like 2,0 I let my beta readers at it.  This time we pick everything apart, including the way the scenes are written.  Again, we're not leaning heavily on perfecting style too much here but more Point of View, what needs to be described and what can be glossed over.

At this point we're in more contact and the drafting is done a bit more "live" than previously.

Draft 3.5

In this middle point I take the third draft after we have finished the last chapter and I revise.  A total rework isn't as necessary at this point because it was done "live" in 3.0.

Now I pay more attention to what words are used, how they are used... and when.  Not only is the pacing in plot picked apart, but also how the words flow.  I read the draft out loud and record this reading.  If I stumble over something I go back and reword it until it flows better, recording over my own voice recording as necessary.

Final Concept Draft

Finally, after months of hard work and rewrites the final draft is done.  The word count is still far from final, as there is still copyediting to do, but the story line is set and the final stages of taking the book to print can finally start.  A firm date to publish is set and agreed on at this stage as well.

One final printing of the draft is done... and it's time to stop calling it a draft but a manuscript.


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