About two weeks ago I started a second draft of The Halley Branch, a novel I wrote for the blog in real time in 2015 (I wrote and posted a new chapter every day). Last night I was talking to someone about drafting, and we were thinking slightly different things. I am a little curious on people’s opinions about how to draft. I know, each person does things their own way, like the old arguments about being a Planner or Pantser when writing the first draft, but I am still curious.
I see two major styles of drafting, Old School and Edited Draft. OK, I made up that last one because I didn’t want to call it “The Lazy Way”, particularly since that is my current technique. I’ll give you a definition as to how I see these methods.
Back in the day of writing with pencil, pen and typewriter, every word of each draft had to be written out one letter at a time. Before a next draft, the writer might go through the old draft very thoroughly and make notes, maybe even do true “cut and paste” to rearrange things. I’m talking scissors here. I wrote like this in high school and college. I wrote a draft in pencil, spent a long time marking it up in pen, rearrange, deleting etc. Then I would write the next draft, reading the first, but changing it as I went along. Each draft was unique, rewritten from beginning to end.
Today I start with a copy of the first draft (computer file) and go through it making changes (on the computer) as I proceed. Sometimes the changes are huge – rewriting entire paragraphs and pages, adding sentences/paragraphs/pages/chapters, deleting paragraphs/pages/chapters, rearranging sentences/paragraphs/pages/chapters (computer copy and paste), etc. Sometimes they are smaller – making grammar or spelling corrections, changing word choice, etc. I might even go a few pages with no changes whatsoever. If I make few changes to the entire work, I call it a “revision”. If I make a lot of major changes, I call it a new “draft”. It is all done on the computer. I might delete paragraphs and rewrite them, but I do not rewrite the entire work, the bulk of it comes directly from the first draft. (If you read The Fireborn, between 60% and 70% of the words were different from the first draft, either added (the length increased by over 30%) or changed in the 6 drafts and 20 revisions.)
What do you do, do a true rewrite (Old School) or edit the existing file (Lazy Way)? Do you have a different option? What do you think of each? What pros and cons do you see with each technique? If you do something totally different, what do you do?
I do have opinions, but I want your feedback untarnished by what I say (another post on the subject coming soon ;) )
So, what do you think?