The Process: How I Write A Novel (Part 5)

I’ve still been working on the latest Dawn Saga novel, despite all the awesome climbing I did over the summer. After finishing the second draft, I gave the manuscript to my editor. It took a month or so for her to read it and give her feedback. Once she did, I began grinding away on the 3rd draft.

Having someone else read an early version of my work (especially something as large as a novel) is a bit nerve wracking. I spend hundreds of hours writing and revising, and if something major is wrong, it can set the process back significantly. If one of my story arcs is junk, or a new character is boring, it means huge rewrites. In addition, I have standard line edits and additional content to create, even if the major things are spot on.

Every time I go through this step of the process, I hope my editor will say it’s good as is, or maybe  just only minor changes required. Another (better, smarter) part of me knows that is foolish and wants feedback on how to make the book better. But not too much feedback. That just means I did a bad job. 🙂

For this 3rd book of the series, my editor gave me a bit more feedback than the previous two. Some of the plot pacing was off. Some of the characters needed tweaked. A few concepts didn’t make sense. Overall, however, she thought the book was great! Her feedback resulted in major chapter rewrites and adjustments, but they made things so much better. It took me about two months to finish everything she wanted. Since I did major editing, the manuscript was due for another complete read-through, with additional minor tweaking. That took another 3 weeks.

For reference:

  • 1st Draft: 100,929 words
  • 2nd Draft: 101,202 words
  • 3rd Draft: 104,464 words
  • 4th Draft: 102,706 words

(Note: Most of these drafts had significant deletions and additions, resulting in greater content change than the net difference in word count suggests.)

Now, the 4th draft is in the hands of my beta readers, a trusted group that’s been with me since the beginning of the Saga. As they journey through it, I’ll be working on short stories and side projects. Mentally, it’s a good break and marks the beginning of the end for the novel writing cycle.

Process Step 5: Try to wrap your brain around what your editor wants you to do. Delete more swaths of precious text and write/change new precious text. Give the book to a larger audience and wait in anticipation for their recommendation to delete/change the new precious text. 🙂

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