Sunday, 4 October 2009

My redrafting process

Chapter seven is still driving me ever so nicely bonkers, even if I did chop it in half the other day. So a nice diversion is sharing with you my redrafting style, to see if some of you writers out there do things similar to me.

Firstly, I create a stats table. It is there to encouarge me to keep at it, remind myself how far I have got to go, and to keep an eye on potential monster chapters so they don't swell too big. My novel as it stands is at 115,000 words. I want to bring this down to 100,000 by the end of my redrafting - tall order, but I want to make my book easy to sell after all. If I can bring it down further than that I will! You can see from my table that chapters nine and ten are going to be a bit of a nightmare, so I have booked seven days off work at the beginning of November to try and sort those two out. This means I must be done with chapters seven and eight by then. In a way my stats table keeps me on the ball.

Although sometimes I wonder whether a stats table is a good idea. The purple area scares me rigid. Still, better than empty white... I chose purple as it's a friendly colour, but it is a bit daunting seeing how much there is to do. At the same time though... there is a feeling of satisfaction at filling those little rectangles with figures. You'll notice at the top I have 'first edit', 'second edit' etc. I do not update this when I just change a word - this is only updated when I have gone through the entire process below with each chapter. Believe me, each chapter goes through the wringer!

How I Redraft

1. Sort out chapter in Word on the computer - making it readable, and as good as I can get it right now. This part of the process is the longest for me.

2. Print out the chapter. Take it to work with me and read at lunchtimes, and most evenings. Lots of pen scribbles and crossing out and writing new scenes in my appalling handwriting.

3. Update the Word doc on the computer when the paper is too full of scribbles. Once these changes are in I usually spot a few more things to change direct on the document.

4. Print out chapter again. This time there might be just a word here or there to change or consider.

5. Update Word doc again with any changes.

6. Read the whole novel again from the beginning to check new redrafted chapter fits with everything preceding. This is the literary equivalent of sieving flour, the first few times you find lumps a-plenty, but as time goes on less will appear on the surface. I might spot a typo or word to change in the earlier chapters, but not so many the further away I get. For example – I am now on chapter 7, and when I do the next full read-through I probably won’t change anything on the prologue or first three chapters, but I may spot something on four, five or six.

7. If happy with the redrafted chapter, I then update my stats table with the word count, and move on. Sometimes I need a few days break to clear my head, especially when working full-time – some evenings I am fit for nothing! But I rarely leave the Word doc longer than a couple of days before I open it again, like a moth to a flame.

How does that tally with any redrafting you do?

7 comments:

Rose said...

Jayne I feel tired just thinking about your re- drafting process!

Kit Courteney said...

Scarily similar!

I have a chart like yours but have added a one sentence description to each chapter just to remind me what's in it. Mine is in 2 colours: pink and blue (although I started with pretty much the same colour you use!)

Process similar too, if not the same. VERY much agree about the sieving ~ that you may be on 7 but small corrections can still need doing on the last 2 or 3.

My final edit is taking YEARS... but in part because I haven't been in the right frame of mind for some time. Reading your post has helped to shift me up a gear I think... So thank you :0)

Kit Courteney said...

Ok, so this will look like I'm stalking you, now.

But I'm not.

Well, not really.

You have something to collect over on my blog :0)

Jayne said...

Hi Rose - no wonder my status is 'mostly knackered'. :)

Jayne said...

Hi Kit! I am glad your process is similar, it makes me feel a lot better about it. I never realised the redrafting would take so long - six months writing the story, and a year and a half (so far) redrafting! But yes completely agree about finding the right frame of mind. Glad I have maybe inspired you a little!

And I just ran to your blog - oooooo! Thank you so much. That really has cheered me up, and I feel all sparkly about redrafting tomorrow. Hooray! So lovely to get something nice out of the blue. :)

Aspiring Writer said...

Hi Jayne,

Wow! Your re-drafting system is awesome and I love the purple colour. It must be a great feeling of satisfaction as you scribble out a square and fill in a number - very motivating. I guess everyone has a different approach - for my 2nd draft I print out a chapter, scribble all over it, then leave it till morning when I go over it with a fresh eye. I type up the amendments and like you find a few more changes to make as I go. I then tuck it away and go onto the next chapter and do the same, and the next chapter, and so on and so on until the last chapter. This is how I am working on my 2nd draft at present. It seems to work well so far. I'll repeat the same process until the final draft or until I'm satisfied it meets the requirements of a perfect gem!
I'm looking forward to your progress over the months or however long it takes. Very inspirational.
Thanks for sharing.

Jayne said...

Thanks Joanne! 'Awesome' makes me feel pretty good! I think I do such a lengthy process as I fear I am not actually that fab a writer, so need to scrutinise everything over and over. Thanks for sharing your process too. I find it very motivating to hear how others persevere – your technique seems pretty sound to me. I like the way you leave it overnight to see with fresh eyes, that makes such a difference. I hope one day we'll all have perfect gems... :)