This weekend I finally finished the short story I'm writing as promotion for the upcoming release of the second book in The Futhark Chronicles, Beyond the Gate. Tamarin's Story will be available shortly in a number of locations but not yet.
When I say I finished the short story I meant I completed the first draft. Writing a first draft for me is like a train rolling downhill. It goes really fast but it's kind of scary and out of control. It gets to its destination quickly but it's not really graceful or pretty. I have a friend who writes first drafts I think are nearly ready for submission they're so close to perfect. Not mine. I write it as fast as I can knowing clean up comes later. First though I put it aside and let it simmer. My mind may turn to it but I don't look at it for a few days.
A few days ago I posted about slashing scenes and before that I wrote about 'weak words.' The second draft is all about that. After letting it alone for a few days, I'll look at my short story or novel with fresh eyes. I'll read completely through it, making notes. I'll check for flow between scenes, repetition, POV problems, and slash some scenes. If it's a novel I might completely remove a subplot or a secondary character to make the story flow better and keep the writing tighter.
This is the time to read dialogue out loud. Is it stiff? Does it even make sense? Do I need it all? Do I need all the dialogue tags?
I'll try to do away with those adverbs and use stronger nouns. Then I have check for my 'Pennsylvania Dutch.' If you lived in central PA you would know what I'm talking about. I don't speak 'Dutch' but it does sneak into my writing a little bit. 'PA Dutch' is a way of speaking that puts the words in an awkward arrangement. Here's an example of one of my morning chores.
"After the trash man came I brought into the garage the empty cans."
Looks really weird when you see it written. Usually I don't write anything as blatant at the above but I still have to search for word arrangement problems.
Hopefully during this stage I will catch inconsistencies with character appearances, timing problems, and characters speaking out of voice. If the first draft is really rough, I entirely retype the second one. Then it's ready for submission.
Before publication, my editor will return it at least once with her comments for edits and we'll work those out with both of us compromising( usually it's me) until it's as ready as we can make it.
Galleys will come back to me a few months before the actual book is released. Usually they have a very tight time schedule of only days. I love reading galleys. I found only four typos in the galleys for Beyond the Gate. The editors and readers did a great job.
So how many drafts do you do before submission? How many times does your editor ask for changes? If you're self-published, do you have readers who help you with edits and changes?