Multidrafting! (Or the Most Insane Fun you can Have With a First Draft)

I have never looked forwards to a blog post with more anticipation. Here goes.

This is how I approach the topic with multiple drafts – generally with much dancing and skipping around in happiness. This approach may turn some people green, but it is how I do it.

The first time I ever wrote an entire, original novel, I approached writing like this: write what ever comes to your brain, fix it afterwards. This is all very well and good, as long as you don’t mind at least 6 total rewrites (I kid you not. And by rewrite I mean starting from page one on a blank sheet of paper).

Another method I have devised, which seems to work better for me involves three stages: Planning, writing, and fixing.

Planning, for me, consists of knowing what happens at the first major turning point, knowing my characters, and that’s it. Nothing more – otherwise it just kills the story for me. It must also be noted that I do a lot of “percolating” before hand, where I think about the story and the characters non-stop for about a month. Some would call that planning in the head, but I think that’s different. Planning requires structure, and there is no structure to my thoughts. They just… are.

Then I sit down, and write to the first turning point. I know what this turning point is, and I don’t worry about the quality of writing to start off with (this is we the other drafts come in later). I don’t really worry about world building either – if I have something fantastical/out of the ordinary that I have to describe, and don’t know how to, I’ll do something like this

(Insert description of slum here).

I do this because I know any attempt to describe it will be crap, unless I take a significant amount of time and put a significant amount of thought into writing it. There isn’t place for that in my first drafts – it slows me down, and it makes writing hard.

After I reach the first turning point, I stop, and think about my second turning point and end. By this stage, I know my world and my characters, so I think about where I want both of them to end up. I think about potential conflict between characters. And then I sit down and write. And write, and write, and write. I don’t describe anything that’s too hard, I do a terrible job of the show don’t tell rule, and my writing is generally atrocious.

But that doesn’t matter – as long as the character motavations make sense, and the plot keeps going, all is good. (First time I wrote The Manda, I ignored both these things. Thus the 6 total rewrites)

Then comes the fixing : I look through the book, try and make sure I get rid of any plot holes, any character discrepancies. Large chunks, especially the middle, will be re-written. This is the second draft. I still don’t bother with the writing all that much.

Now we’re into third draft territory. This is where I sit down, realise no-one else is going to be able to understand this, and go through the entire thing slowly, chapter by chapter, filling in all the descriptions I left out, doing all the research necessary.

Then I leave it. And come back to it. This is the fourth draft – it isn’t a rewrite like the others, but a revision. I strike out all the descriptions that hold the story back, rewrite the ones that don’t work. By this stage, it’s about ready for Beta readers.

They will find a heap of problems with it, I’ll go and fix it, and the whole thing will start over. By the end of the Beta revision, I am done.

And that, for me, is multi drafting. Each draft has the possibility of extending into multiple versions of itself – for example, I may have three second drafts, each for a major plot hole or character inconsistency.

But for me, multi-drafting presents me with an immense amount of freedom. I can stuff up some stuff while I get the other stuff right. I’m only concentrating on one thing at a time (notice also that I start with the hardest things – plot and character – and work my way down to concise sentence building) It won’t work for everyone, but I find it immensely helpful.

Enjoy creating~

Sian

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One thought on “Multidrafting! (Or the Most Insane Fun you can Have With a First Draft)

  1. LM Preston says:

    I like your 2nd method and I must also admit I've done both and finally evolved into outlining. It's an easy way to fix rogue writing and to make sure I'm sticking with the plot. It's hard, but now I'm better at it.

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