Revise, Revise, Revise. Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite

I don’t wish to point fingers, but it’s all Hugh Howey’s fault. When I got wind of the whole self-publishing thing and finally overcame my endless procrastination, to the point where I actually finished a story, I then had to think about what to do with it.

Obviously the first draft wouldn’t be the only one, it would need to be revised. I don’t think I knew how many drafts I would need to undertake before it was ‘ready’ but let’s say three. That seemed a reasonable number. Then I read Hugh saying he did six. That seemed like a lot, but I thought I would give it a go.

The bad news was I still found things to change in that final revision, although the number of edits did get smaller with each pass. I have continued to do the same number of passes since though, which makes for a slow production schedule.

I’m a fan of the ‘vomit draft’ to generate my initial output (so called because the idea is to simply get it out and onto paper/screen as fast as possible). I therefore charge through it without looking behind, focused on reaching the end. I built Write Here to help me lock onto that goal. It reminds me how many words I’ve written, both today and overall, so I remember to keep moving forward, like a shark.

Then the process of rewriting begins. So here’s an idea of my method:

  1. First draft written at Write Here
  2. Copied into Scrivener and split into chapters
  3. Second draft completed in Scrivener
  4. Third draft completed in Scrivener
  5. Export to RTF and print out
  6. Fourth draft completed using pen and paper
  7. Additional tweaks made as these edits are copied back into Scrivener
  8. Story goes out for beta/proof reading
  9. Fifth draft completed in Scrivener based on reader’s comments
  10. Export to Epub and have it read aloud using the FBReader Android app
  11. Sixth draft completed while listening along

The received wisdom is you need to allow some time between each pass (the longer, the better). That usually gets done on my early passes, but less so on the later ones (to be honest, I find being familiar with the work can help too, especially if you’re releasing in pieces).

I find the hard copy helps, and the audio draft is excellent at helping pick up typos you miss no matter how many times you read it.

Only then is it fit to go through to the next step: preparing for publication.

This isn’t the only reason why I am sometimes so behind in my releases, but it gives you some of idea of just how much work there is left to do once I finish writing. Like making a movie, that’s just one small part of the process.