What do you do after you're done with the first draft?


This question might sound ignorant, but I'm working on my first novel. Surfing online, people talk of writing a second draft and then a third and so on and on which confuses me. Do most authors rewrite whole chunks of the book in different drafts, or are they just referring to correcting grammar mistakes, sentence structure, spelling mistakes, order of chapters etc? I thought I would do just that, ask friends/ relatives for feedback and be good to send it for publication.

I don't think I'll change my first draft much (I doubt I'll rewrite a whole scene and my scenes are quite short - usually slightly less than a thousand words). I'm worried because I literally wrote the first draft without looking back so that I could be done with it as soon as possible, rather than getting sick of writing it.

Summing up, what exactly does the editing process entail?

Also, how long does it take the average writer?

Oh, one last thing. My holidays are ending by next month so I'll be busy afterwards. If I let my draft gather dust for some time, I'll be wasting my holidays. what do I do?
Can I send it to agents in a month's time? (And have it good enough for being published!)

Sorry about it being so long.
Thank you so much for time.

Answer: How much revision you need to do depends on your particular skills and writing methods, as well as the quality of your first draft.

I can say, however, that people who can write a great manuscript in one draft that needs nothing more than a spell check are incredibly rare.

Plotters (people who plan their books in detail before they start writing) often need to do less revision because they fix a lot of plot problems at the outline stage.

Other writers specialize in writing bad first drafts with no forethought and then doing an extensive re-write for the second draft.

For most people, the revision process takes as long if not longer than the writing. Some people have to rewrite a book a dozen times over the course of a few years to get it right. For others, the process may take a few months.

There's no way for me to tell where you fall along this spectrum. The fact that you wrote your book quickly could be a positive or a negative sign.

The usual procedure now is...

1. Put the manuscript aside for a little while, so you can reread it later with fresh eyes.

2. Prepare a second draft. Don't just correct spelling and grammar. Check for continuity and consistency of voice. Make sure the story flows well and is emotionally compelling. Eliminate anything that doesn't need to be there. Some whole scenes may need to be cut. Others may need to be added to make sense of things. Try to make it the best story you can.

3. Once you're really happy with the manuscript, show it to some people whose judgement you trust. If the book has problems, it's better to have your friends find them than an agent. You might try joining a group of writers who give feedback on each other's work.

You will have to discern helpful feedback from unhelpful. Notice if people get excited or are emotionally moved by your story. That's a good sign. The worst thing is if people seem unexcited by it.

4. You should never feel bored by your manuscript. You should be able to read it dozens of times and feel emotionally moved each time. If sections seem boring, fix them.

For most writers, the revision process is easier and more fun than writing a first draft.

5. When you feel your manuscript is the best it can be, then you are ready to approach agents.

6. If you're lucky enough to sell the book, you can expect further rounds of revisions while working with your editor, proofreader, etc.

Best of luck.

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