“Picking up your first copy of a book you wrote, if there’s one typo, it will be on the page that your new book falls open to the first time you pick it up.” – Neil Gaiman
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about how we each write/draft/edit. There were a few things tossed around, but one thing we really disagreed on was editing. My friend needs to have a formal, well-thought-out outline before she starts with any word. I, on the other hand, have a looser outline. We jokingly said that my first draft was my outline, though I think that’s true.
I like taking my first draft and using that as a template. I get to think about my overall idea. What works? What doesn’t? Why are these characters doing things that are not in character normally? Do they even need to do these things? I consider a lot while reading through the first draft. It’s freeing, knowing that I may trash 90% of what I’m working with, but still getting the opportunity to say “That doesn’t work for John, what can I do to fix it?”
After research and worldbuilding (depending on the story), my writing probably breaks down to 15% writing, 35% editing, and 50% rewriting.
(Frantically checks the math on a calculator.) Yeah, that’s about right. Or at least some similar breakdown.
Recently, I had the privilege of working with my friend Melanie Venhaus (@libraryofmars on twitter) and have a whole new set of edits to work with! I can’t recommend Melanie enough for anyone looking for a freelance editor. I’m very excited to break into these new edits and hopefully rekindle some of the love I’ve lost in the last few months.
At the end of the day, your first draft should never be your final draft. Whether you have an 18-page outline that transitions from scene to scene or a loose story arc sketch on a bar napkin, you should always check your book for things that need changing. Your brain will only let you see so much and there are better ways to find typos before picking up that first copy.