I am finalizing my fourth draft of my novel, Provenance. The first draft, of which I was extremely proud and actually sent out to agents, was atrocious. I wrote the second draft after a kind and knowledgeable literary agent gave me feedback on my first draft (thank you Miriam). I hired a developmental editor to read and comment on the second draft and while it was better I had more work to do.
The third draft was a slavish concession to every comment the developmental editor made on the second manuscript, including to turn my too-long novel into two novels. I tried, but the separation did not feel right for me or my characters.
I am currently working on the fourth draft. Trusting my writer instincts, I am putting the book back together with a much leaner profile. The exercise of having torn the tome asunder has actually made the book better. In addition to working on my manuscript I have faithfully attended my writers group and I’ve taken writing classes with authors like Barbara Esstman and Con Lehane, to better hone my craft. I have read more than 70 books – some on the craft of writing, some fiction, all an education and thank goodness for Goodreads otherwise I would have lost track by now. At four drafts and counting, I’m a better writer, writing a better book.
According to author Louis Sachar, I have two more drafts to go. In a recent talk at the 92Y in New York that was reported in GalleyCat, Sachar said that an author must “always be willing to rewrite.” He shared that each of his books typically required him to write six drafts – three or four for plot and character development and in the last two drafts he adds the artistry. It is nice to know that I am not unique in realm of revision. After craft comes art, one draft at a time.