Novel Drafts Explained

This month I’m concentrating on editing the second draft of my next SF novel – Tyrmia.  Currently,  I’m up to chapter 24 out of 60.  I’ve just crossed over into Part Two which mean the story is starting to get interesting now.  Part One had some extensive edits on the first few chapters, but for the most part has been smooth sailing.  I expect that Part Two will be more edit intensive as I attempt to make the manuscript readable for my beta readers.

For me, the second draft is where my novels start to gel into a readable story.  Often during a first draft, things get altered or changed on the fly, as I am writing.  Because just finishing the book is the top priority, I won’t go back and make sure things that I change later in the story are also changed early in the story.  For instance, name changes.  I have a race of aliens that I started out calling Votons, but later changed to Votains.  Some changes are easily fixed in search and finds, others are more extensive.

I also look at characters and structure in the Second Draft, but not as closely as in the Third Draft.  After I compile all the comments and concerns of my beta readers, I usually wind up focusing more on character and dialogue and technical accuracy of things in the Third Draft.  Another important focus on the Third Draft is grammar and other writer specific things.  Because this is the draft that my editor will receive.

Fourth Drafts are the final edits and clean-ups of a novel and involve correcting everything that my editor has found.  It is also the version that is copy edited the closest, because it will become the final version of the first edition.

My goal is to get the Second Draft done by December, so that I can get it to the beta readers before the holidays.  I’ll give them two months to read and comment on it and then I’ll spend two months editing D3.  Give D3 to the editor, let her hack on it for a month and then start the final draft.  The target date for publication of Tyrmia will be September of 2010.  I need to give the press and Amazon etc., about two months to get it out, so the final, final version is due in July.

This lengthy process of writing and drafting usually takes me two years.  I began writing Tyrmia over a year and a half ago.  I would like to get this process down faster, but given the amount of time that I get to actually write, two years from start to print is about as fast as I can move.  This Spring I will be starting to write the next Joshua Jones Mystery and I will attempt to crank that out faster than before.  Perhaps I can get it out sooner than I have with Tyrmia.  In my experience, novels set in SF universes tend to take longer to write because of all the world building.  Mystery novels set in present times are much faster for me to write.  Look for Kill Dash Nine sometime in late 2011.