Someone asked me last week how many drafts I plan for this novel. It is an excellent question, but I have no idea as I’ve never done this before.
I’m currently on my second-ish draft. I wrote a draft-like collection of words over the summer but rewrote the whole thing as my “first” draft during NaNoWriMo. Next, I updated my outline to fill in all the holes in the first draft. That’s what I’m fixing now in the second draft.
After attending a writing class in March, I will attempt a third draft. That draft will make the words prettier, or at least more readable. We’re heading right into the “don’t have a clue” territory at this point.
Assuming the third draft goes well, I’ll seek out some beta readers. These folks will read the whole thing and provide feedback on what is or is not working, and if they like it in general. My “don’t have a clue” plan puts this step in May or June.
If they like it, I’ll take their feedback and work on draft four. Hopefully, this will be tidying things up and making things sound even better, but if they find major plot holes there will be more work. If all goes according to my well-crafted plan (based on no personal experience at all), this draft will be done in August.
I suppose what happens next depends on the state of the fourth draft, but I envision the final edits will happen in or around September. This will include all the line level editing that will be super boring but ensure I don’t misspell any words or forget silly things like commas.
If I have done all I can do, and I like it, I will call it done. I’ll start the process of sending query letters to agents with the ultimate goal of selling it to a publisher.
If I have done all I can do, and I don’t like it, I’ll put it on hold. I’ve enjoyed the process and it has been good practice but after a year it will be time for me to move onto something new. I can always return to it later.
If I submit it to agents and publishers (a process that will take many months) and find no takers, I will put it on hold. It is my first novel after all, and perhaps my writing isn’t quite ripe yet. I can always return to it later.
Once the novel is done and regardless of what I do with it, I will move onto my next novel idea. I could say I will repeat this process, but this first novel process has taken almost two decades to fully materialize. The next one should be faster!