Revising: Getting Organized

I freely admit that one of the things that is happening to me as a writer is that my drafting process is evolving. I expect that I will never find a solution that works for each book, but I am learning some things about my own creative process that seem to be useful to know.

Recently, I have become a believer in the gloppy first draft, which means don’t edit. RESIST! Hard for me, but I get more material this way.

And then I find that I spend the second draft writing what most people might think of as a first draft: I take my gloppy exploration and throw out the dead ends and keep the good bits, and sort of put tentpoles underneath.

And then…I wrote a synopsis. This was helpful, because it indicated to me I had directions and developed characters.

Now, I am rewriting for a third time. I plan to rewrite at the slowest rate of one chapter per week (for 17 weeks?), and really dig deep on details and integrate workshop suggestions. This will probably be the workiest of the drafts right here, where things are really reshaped and some of my earliest reader concerns are addressed and evaluated.

Next I schedule what I call backweaving. I release the story back to some other readers (interested writers, interested readers, my token child reader) and I see what new suggestions come back to me. I evaluate those suggestions and address them accordingly. I am also reading the draft aloud, and checking for continuity–making sure everything that needs to be added in early is. I have given myself a month or so for this, because if I’ve done my job right in 3, the story should be pretty solid here.

And then draft 5. Another aloud reading, a proofreading, maybe a couple more readers who are really getting the story.

And then peripherals, and ta-da! Off it goes into the world.

With a month off for Taos and the 25th anniversary trip, that means that Abigail Rath should be ready for agents in November. At a slow, steady pace. If I can get through it faster, so much the better, but my expectations are realistic. This would mean about a year for the book.

I may well work on some other gloppy draft during the 4th and 5th drafts, as writers are wont to do.

I’ve never been this organized before. However, I find that setting goals at a certain point can be just as motivating to me as setting aside time. And since no one is imposing goals on me, I need to do so to myself.



Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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