Reading my first draft

Since starting this blog, I’ve been unsure of the direction, but as I have decided to attempt to write, and have ready to submit, by the end of the year, I’m going to blog each step of my new-found process, under the Novel in a Year category tag. If you read this post first, it’ll all make more sense! I hope you’ll find it interesting and/or helpful 🙂

And now, for today’s update:

As planned, I read my draft with the eyes of a beta-reader. When I beta for someone, I use the Comments on Word, and I hope I make helpful comments as well as highlight the really good stuff. I know I let a little sarcasm slip in too. I pretended I was reading someone else’s work, and acted accordingly.

Editing pages

It took me six days to complete the read-through, and then act on the easily sorted issues. A lot of my comments simply said delete or unnecessary, which is pretty self-explanatory. Some of them were paragraphs that I could slot into the work at the appropriate point, and some will be longer and harder to solve. There’s a timeline problem relatively early on, a rather large omission of someone’s reaction to a particular event and a whole lot of underwriting practically all the way through.

To be honest, the underwriting is a lifelong problem, so that wasn’t a shock!

Here are a few of the comments I’ve made:

Remember how hard this was to get the right reveal here? Well, it hasn’t worked. Try again

This all needs to be re-written… you know that glazed over look you get when you read something hideously boring… yeah, that

So they’re not going to talk about last night? Jo tried to murder a painting, and he’s okay with that?

Really? We’re smiling at hats, are we? Why not at the coffee, or that mop in the corner?

My next task is to print out the manuscript and mark up where the deeper changes need to be made, where a couple of chapters need to be moved, and to write new sections so that the other changes make sense. I can’t wait to get my fountain pen out and jot notes all over the pages!

Once again, I’ll be using the NaNoWriMo site and giving myself four weeks to complete this part. I might even work out all the stages for the rest of the year, so I’m not doing quite so much guessing about the deadlines I should be imposing.

How nice are you to yourself when you read your own work?

How long does it take you to write a book?

How many drafts do you take? (My personal best is somewhere in the 20s!)

37 thoughts on “Reading my first draft”

  1. Love the sarcasm in the comments to yourself, Annalisa =) Good luck with the goals you’ve set for yourself. There’s nothing like meeting a goal to keep you motivated and positive. How many drafts, you ask …I really don’t even want to know. Tons. And my books take years. Without looking back at dates (because, really, I don’t want to know that either) probably at least three years a piece.


    1. I found I’d slid into a circle of revising/editing and complete non-finishing. I compared this to other writers I know, even the slower writers seem to produce something once a year – and I panicked 🙂


  2. Your notes to yourself remind me of the oh-so-nice and not-at-all-sarcastic notes I write to myself. I’m much nicer to other people.

    My books take years and generally three to four drafts.

    Best of luck with your revisions!


    1. Well, this is a slightly different way of doing it, but hopefully the only real change is I’ll speed myself up and be looking for beta readers long before I usually do… fingers crossed 🙂


  3. LOL! You are sarcastic with yourself.

    I tend to edit on paper, so I’ll fix easy stuff and leave notes for harder stuff.


    1. I did the easy stuff on the computer. It’s now printed out waiting for the harder stuff. I always get a thrill when my printed pages are covered with pen, preferably lots of different colours that I have to decipher when I type it up 🙂


  4. I like this post and frankly you should save this work (i.e. all the notes) as you progress. This could be a book unto itself – a show of the learning/writing/editing process. This is the down and dirty work. You do have such a grand sense of humor. I need to take a better approach at editing than my usual slash and burn – this is all vile and should be shredded immediately approach. I can’t say I’ve officially counted drafts. It’s a lot of iterations, that’s for sure.


    1. Ah yes, I’ve had those moments where I’ve wanted to shred everything. Think of all that wasted work though!! Everything is salvageable, even if not in the original form… if that makes sense.


  5. Excellent update! I think I’m more likely to be sarcastic with myself. However, I have to read things aloud to really see my own work properly. I can’t seem to read it like someone else’s work without that step.
    Hooray for progress!!!


    1. Reading aloud is brilliant too – I like to do that if I passage isn’t working but I can’t figure out why. Usually it’s a syntax problem. Sending the ms to my Kindle is the best way I’ve found to get distance. Have you tried that?


  6. Good for you, Annalisa. I think I have trouble evaluating my own work, but I do use track changes in Word, as that is still my preferred way of writing. I usually end up making a lot of changes, and comments. My first book had over 30 drafts before I decided to hire an editor to help me. That was the best decision I made, as I had been making the same mistakes over and over, like a mad person, until my editor showed me exactly what I had done wrong and where. Good-luck with your project, Annalisa. Enjoy it.


    1. I’m reading on paper, and I’m using my trusty fountain pen – as pictured at the top of the page – to make my copious alteration. I’ve currently scrapped two chapters, and I’m writing something to take their place.


  7. I also reread my drafts as if I’m a beta. Usually I work on something else for a month or two before I do it so that I can actually gain a bit more perspective.

    As for how long I take… Depends. If I’m in a good place, I can write a book in a month or two. (My record for a rough draft is ten days.) Right now I’m not in a good place and the book I’m working on has been languishing for almost two years. >_<


  8. I have laughed so hard when reading and commenting my script. I usually do it with my daughter and she has me in stitches with her witty comments and facial expressions: ‘Really, mom.’ Saracasm can be uplifting if said with a good heart. Good luck with your WIP, Annalisa. Sounds like it’s coming along nicely.


  9. LOL! I don’t have nearly enough patience to go through and mark up a draft that way. I just make the changes instead, leaving notes for big items that need to be taken care of. That system works pretty well for me, but I’m not the fastest writer either, so… (Which technically could be blamed on the kids.)


    1. I found it easier to get out of editing mode for a while, and just read the story. Small changes were made immediately, but I was able to note where the prose wasn’t working without slowing down to write new scenes. I saw the book as a whole, not as separate chapters. I’ll be using this method again 🙂


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