How Many Drafts does it Take?

Tootsie owl

I’m working on the 3rd draft of my latest project. I still don’t have a good title for it, right now I’m calling it Wolf Book 3. As I was sifting through reader feedback, I wondered how many drafts it normally takes for me to get that completed feeling.

I looked back at the last couple of novel projects to see how many drafts I wrote and the magic number is 5. Here’s the breakdown:

Draft 1 — This is the true first draft, where I write it and let it sit for a bit. I typically like to wait at least a month before draft 2.

Draft 2 — Here is the first rewrite. In the past my 1st drafts were pretty bare bones, and I would add quite a bit of detail in the 2nd draft, but lately I’ve had to cut stuff out instead. After this draft, I send the manuscript out for reader comments and/or to a critique group.

Draft 3 — This is the draft where I incorporate feedback that I receive from readers/critiquers. I typically make changes based upon the feedback but don’t dive into a total rewrite.

Draft 4 — After I let the reader feedback percolate a bit, I come back and do my final re-write. This is where I print it out, read it aloud, and re-write until I can’t anymore. After this draft it goes to the editor.

Draft 5 — I make changes based upon editor’s comments and do a final proofread.

We all know that there is no correct way to do this stuff, but this is the way that seems to work for me. How about you?

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