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  • Writer's pictureKali Kuzma

Why You Should Write at Least Three Drafts for Your Novel

Your First Go Isn't Your Best Work

Writing a novel is hard work. There I said it. It takes weeks if not months to sometimes years for authors to tell their stories. The relief and accomplishment one feels when writing that final sentence is liberating. You've done it. The hard work is over.

But wait... is it?

Well, the answer is simply 'no.' In fact, the hard work has just begun. As an author you shouldn't just write your story once and call it quits. If you want your story to be the best it can be, you should be writing multiple drafts. Three drafts minimum if you are really wanting your story to excel. Here's what you should be working on in the first three drafts.

Draft One: Get the Story out There

For most writers, beginning a new story is exciting and exhilarating. Often times they jump in with a strong vigor usually at chapter one and slowly make their way through the story. But the scenes they were excited to write about aren't until chapters 5, 7, and 14. This leads most storytellers feeling discouraged before getting to the good parts.

That's why draft one is all about writing those scenes you already know. Why start at the beginning when you can jump right to the good parts?

Draft one is supposed to be messy, out of order, and honestly confusing. Never once should it be polished and wrapped in a nice bow because that's not what draft one is meant for.

Setting the foundation and being able to play with your thoughts and ideas while building your characters aren't meant to happen during these writing sessions.

So go ahead, get all those scenes written that you already know, and when you think you have enough, it's time to move onto draft 2.

Draft Two: Becoming A Novel

That's right. You don't need your first draft to be complete before moving onto the next draft. Draft 2 is for filling in those the gaps. Get ready to spend most of your time in draft two while you figure out how to rearrange your scenes, plot more of your story, and let your character's personalities come to life.

Like draft one you don't have to write your story in order, but you should have all your scenes written and placed in chronological order. This way you can break your novel into chapters.

Your characters should have their unique dialogue and characteristics showing through. Any small details needing to be threaded throughout to make the story cohesive should also be included in draft two. That way when you move into draft three most of the hard work should already be done.

Draft Three: The Hardest Draft of All

Some say filling a blank page is the hardest step, but no one ever talks about editing those pages once they are full. Draft three is about cleaning up the mess you made in the first two drafts. Cutting back scenes that no longer work, fixing those run-on sentences, and polishing up as much as possible. Rechecking your research, exchanging words, and eliminating/increasing word count are also important points to touch on in this draft. Having a critic partner check for these things helps when completing your third draft.

Once those items are done, it might be time for your story to get published.

Final Thoughts

If you spend a lot of time writing, draft three mostly likely will be the final draft before moving onto publishing. But, for some, that may not be the case. It's important to realize when you should move onto the next draft phase and knowing when the drafting phase is over. The best way to start is by having three draft phases. Like I mentioned before, the first draft won't be your best work. Many famous authors rewrite their books a few times before sending it out to the world so don't think you're special and skip those steps. To give your story a chance, follow the 3+ draft rule to give the readers the experience you set out for.

Subscribe to the blog for more writing content and let me know in the comments below how many drafts you write when working on your novel.

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