1st Drafts / 2nd Drafts / Editing / Research / Writing

Writing Workshop 6: Draft Schedules

The first building block of writing style was VOICE. The second was CHARACTERS. The third was PLOT. The fourth was THEMES. The fifth was DETAILS.

This last writing workshop is more of a wrap-up, a looking-ahead to that day when your book is finally done. You’ll need a plan, a schedule for your drafts. Here’s the schedule I use for my books:

No one should see your first draft. First drafts are hard enough as it is; don’t put pressure on yourself to make it perfect the first time around. Use the second draft to make the story the best you can on your own, using your editing cheat sheet.

After the second draft . . .  if you’re ready, send the story to your main writing partner(s) to make sure you’re on the right track with the story. Use that feedback to write a third draft.

After the third draft . . . send your story to a few test readers. You’ll be taking some of their advice, but not all. Sometimes two readers will give you conflicting information. Obviously you can’t make everyone happy, so trust your instincts to guide you in what’s best for the story.

After the fourth draft . . .  don’t forget to give yourself a break from the story so you can come back to it with fresh eyes. Do this as often as necessary, and write as many drafts as you need. We are constantly learning and growing as writers, and we continue to improve with time. Space from the manuscript will help you catch mistakes.

If you decide to self publish . . . you’ll need to hire (or trade with) at least three editors before releasing your story to the world:  creative editor, technical editor, and proofreader. Some talented editors can do all three jobs, but it’s best to have more than one person. The more eyes on your story, the more mistakes will be caught. Please don’t skimp on these editing steps. If you do, readers will know your work is unprofessional.

Never stop learning! There are countless resources for writers to learn: books, the Internet, conferences, classes, and more. Some of the more popular writing books:  On Writing Well by William Zinsser, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, On Writing by Stephen King, Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell, and The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. Internet opportunities continue to grow—it’s never been so easy to be a writer. IndieReCon is an example of a great (FREE!) online conference for indie writers.

If you want to be a professional writer for the long haul, then you’ll need to hone the writing craft for the rest of your life. It’s hard to stand out from the crowd and be a successful author, but the rewards make it more than worthwhile. Even if you don’t make a lot of money, you’re still influencing people with the written word.

Good luck on the writing path, and thank you for joining my writing workshops!



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