I think we can all agree that a first draft of ANYTHING is not going to cut it.
I’m in year twelve at school – my LAST year of school, in fact. And even with my essays for English I do five or six drafts before I actually do an exam (which, okay, yes, might be a bit much).
But what about for novels? How many drafts does it really take? And how are you supposed to not get BORED?
At the moment I’m working on a contemporary upper MG called The Daisy List.
I wrote The Daisy List for Camp NaNoWriMo in 2013. Yep, almost two years ago. It feels like a long time for me. And right now I’m on the third draft. I mean, in between that I’ve written a few first drafts (three, I believe) but at the moment, this is my best piece of work.
For me, it might take more drafts than other people, because my first drafts are absolutely shocking (since I usually write them in a few weeks).
But I guess there are two things that tell you it’s time to stop working on something.
1. You’ve sent it to a bunch of CPs and they love it, you love it, and it’s perfect, and there’s nothing you could REALLY do to improve it.
Which, of course, is the ideal scenario.
2. You’re absolutely sick of it and you want to throw your characters off a cliff.
This one’s not so ideal. If you hate a WIP this much, it’s really not worth working on it – you have to really love your story if you want it to be as good as it can be. And that’s not to say it has to be shelved FOREVER – one day you might come back to it and think, Ah yes, this story about fairy dust is a work of art.*
*Disclaimer: if you wrote this so-called story about fairy dust in primary school, you probably WON’T want to come back to it.
So, yeah, I don’t have a real answer for you in terms of how many drafts.
And plus, a “draft” is a different thing to a lot of people. To some it’s completely rewriting, to others it’s tweaking certain lines. So what’s a second draft for one person might end up being a fifth draft for someone else.
I don’t think it matters how many drafts it takes you to have something you like, as long as you’re not prolonging the process out of perfectionism.
I still love The Daisy List, and until the time that I don’t, I’ll keep working on it.
Emily is a nearly-eighteen-year-old who writes whenever she’s procrastinating on…well, other writing. Essays, mostly. She hopes to start querying after this draft of The Daisy List (but only after the blessing of her CPs, of course).