Now that I’m getting ready to send in my second draft, I feel I can take a breath and pick up the thread here! I hope to return to posting once a week.
Do you remember those old “Prince Valiant” cartoons in the Sunday newspaper? They’d always start with a panel called Our Story, because nobody could keep track of the plot. Well, it’s been a while, so I feel like I should catch you up.
Where I left off here, I’d just received comments from my editor on my first draft. As usual, these sparked new ideas, and I set out to revise and rewrite. I spent about eight months revising, which is typical for me, and now I’m getting ready for my final read through of the book.
Readers often ask me how long it takes to write a book and how much I revise. Every writer is different, but here’s my general schedule:
1. I spend about a year figuring out what I’m doing. This involves a lot of writing and thinking.
2. I spend about nine months writing the first draft.
3. After my editor reads it, I think about her comments for a few weeks, and then plunge into revision. I’ll revise for six months to a year.
4. I send her the new draft and we work together, exchanging the manuscript. She generally marks it up on paper, which I find WAY better than track changes in Word. This goes on for a couple of months, until we agree the book is ready for the copy editor.
This point in the process is a happy one for me, because I’ve done the hardest work. There may be places to develop or clarify, but I’ve shaped the book. I’ve said what I wanted to say. If my book were a bridge, I’d say that now I’ve built it all the way to the other side. If my book were a building, this is where I’d hoist the flag.