The drafting process (otherwise known as Down The Rabbit Hole) • Beverley Lee

The drafting process (otherwise known as Down The Rabbit Hole)

200 Words
May 24, 2015
200 Words
June 14, 2015

The drafting process (otherwise known as Down The Rabbit Hole)

There are thousands of way to hone your first draft into the finished, hopefully-soon-to-be-published, shiny final copy. I’m new to this and the amount of information is simply staggering. You could actually spend all the time you have carefully set aside for editing, reading the ‘how to do it’ guides. And there lies the problem of the internet. There is just too much shiny out there!

I decided to go about it my own way, knowing I would learn from the process and if it didn’t work I would know not to do it like that next time.

Approaching your manuscript for the second time is a bit of a minefield. I hadn’t read through mine when writing (which was, co-incidentally, one of the best pieces of advice I took on board) so whilst you’re hoping that you’ll be bowled over by the magnificence of it, there is always that lurking doubt that you might suddenly discover that it all sucks to a degree where you feel a real urge to burn it…

My second draft was purely reading and taking notes. I squashed the need to fiddle with it somehow, and just made lots and lots of notes either on paper or in the Scrivener inspector. Some scenes only had a few scribbles whereas some had a ridiculous amount of question marks and comments like ‘elaborate’ or ‘POV’. After I did this I went through and acted on all of the notes, which could actually have been called the third draft I’ve just realised. But, hey ho.

Draft three was *pause for effect* The Timeline. My story has a lot of characters doing numerous things that have a bearing on each other and it all takes place (or most of it) over a few days. I created four A6 sides of paper with the complete timeline. Incredibly there were only a few minor time glitches to correct, apart from one whole scene that didn’t gel. After thinking it through I deleted the scene. It wasn’t needed and my timeline showed it. Trust your story.

Draft four was what I affectionately call the George R R Martin one – cutting the unnecessary words, beheading the passive voice. You’ll be clueless if you haven’t read the books or watched the show 😉

By this time I was in so deep that I could almost quote whole passages from the manuscript, far too deep to do any more good in fiddling.

So this is where I handed it over to my beta readers (who are the most selfless, amazing people, giving up their creating time to help another writer. All hail the beta reader ).

When I get all their feedback I can begin on revisions. Draft five I will be coming for you!


  1. Matt Rydeen says:

    “Trust your story.”

    A gold-mine’s worth of advice in three tiny words. Thank you for sharing your writing journey with us. I’m always intrigued by a writer’s process, as you wear so many different hats throughout the various phases!

    • Thanks so much, Matt. I’m really winging it but want to share the experience, good and bad! It’s also a kind of diary for me to remind myself of what works and what doesn’t 😉

  2. Dee says:

    It’s always so interesting to read about other people’s drafting process.

  3. Seems like a sound strategy, specially the note-taking draft. For some reason I can never bring myself to do that.

    • It’s whatever works for you. That’s one thing I’ve learned. There’s no right way for everyone, just trial and error until you find your sweet spot.

      Thanks for commenting, Martin.

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