First or second draft submitted?

I have a writing question to ask. Here's the thing. I see on plenty of blogs, published writers who seem to start their contracted books and count down to their deadline scrambling at the last moment to finish on time. To me, this looks like they're submitting a first draft to their editor and then do the bulk of their edits and changes in tandem with what their editor tells them needs to be fixed. Is this the norm?

I feel like I perhaps do an unnecessary extra step -- a second draft. My personal deadline is at least a month earlier than my official deadline, which gives me two weeks for the manuscript to sit and fester, and then two weeks for me to tweak it. My first editor told me how clean my drafts were and I didn't know what she meant at the time. But is it the fact that a whole lot of writers don't hand in a second draft? If this is so, I think I could save myself that entire month of tweakage and work on something else.

Then again, I kind of like the feel of handing something with all my commas nicely organized. Doesn't mean I'll have any less to do when the edit letter comes in. It all depends on the book.

--Michelle

P.S. My fifth book has just been released. Stakes & Stilettos is available now! (It had a fairly short edit letter. The next one in the series, though, a tad longer).

Comments

Molly Harper said…
Hey Michelle,

Second drafts are absolutely necessary. I go through a lot of steps before my publisher sees anything. First, I'm going back every few weeks and reading over previous chapters for errors and continuity. Then I finish the draft, leave it along for a week, read and correct it. My writing buddy reads the chapters and points out any errors she sees. I let the manuscript sit for a week, then edit and rewrite. I submit that draft to my agent. She reads and corrects it. (Sometimes we go through several drafts that way. Book two, Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men, was a particularly prickly manuscript.) I rewrite it again, and then I submit to my editor.

You're not alone!
Moll

(Congrats on the fifth book!)
-Kelly Meding said…
So far I haven't butted up against a deadline (book two was finished with three months to spare, but I was also given seven until it was due), which has given me plenty of time for tweakage. And I appreciate having the time. I was able to let my two critters give me feedback before I sent it to my agent, then use his feedback before it went to my editor.

At this point, I still need the extra passes to make sure the story I wanted to tell is the one on the page. I am learning from my mistakes, but there are always amazingly stupid things that I miss on my own.

We'll have to see what the future brings and how it changes my draft habits. :)
Gareth said…
The more drafts that you can do, the cleaner you make your "product." The fact that it also allows you to tweak the characters and check your descriptives also adds extra polish to the script which will tell in the end.

I do know some authors who go through seven drafts of a novel before publication in order to make sure that everything right (of which three drafts are of the book before the publisher even see's it.)

The thing that you have to remember is that there is no right or wrong approach to this, its what works for you at the end of the day and how confident you feel about it.
Nicole Peeler said…
I edit the hell out of everything. I've edited this comment. I'll edit you if you hold still. :-)

THAT said, I haven't, as Kelly said, butted up against a deadline. I have given myself ample time to write mah books.

BUT I plan on writing two, one from my new series idea, this summer. Who thinks I can do it?????
Kat Richardson said…
I tend to think and outline and take a lot of notes before I start. Then I write a bit, toss it out and restart, but I always seem to end up scrambling to hit the deadline. So, yeah, I'm handing in a first draft most of the time. What's funny, though, is that my editor seems to expect that. If I apologize for the state of the ms she says "that's fine; I don't expect first drafts to be perfect."

I wish I had more time to write, but even at only one book a year, there are always a bunch of other projects falling onto my desk to eat up my "free" writing time. I guess I'm just not very organized....
Anonymous said…
The fact that anyone would even consider submitting a first draft to an agent or an editor is scary. I think it's a sign of how far the bar has been lowered for writers. You write the very best book/story you can, revising as many times necessary, before submitting. Not unendingly, not to avoid finishing, but to submit the best piece you can. That's what being a professional is about.

End of rant.
Ann Aguirre said…
I do this too. My personal deadline for the last book was March 31. It's due May 15. I'll add as much as 15K in new material before I am satisfied with what I send my editori.

Congrats on the release!

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