Book Week Scotland 2017 is taking place from Monday 27 November – Sunday 3 December.
Welcome to our Book Week Scotland 2017 special. Every day we are featuring guest posts from various Authors with a variety of genres to suit every reader.
Book Week Scotland is a week-long celebration of books and reading that takes place every November.
During Book Week, people of all ages and walks of life will come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. They will be joined in this celebration by Scotland’s authors, poets, playwrights, storytellers and illustrators to bring a packed programme of events and projects to life.
Today Douglas Skelton is here with a guest post for our lovely followers.
Feeling the draft
By Douglas Skelton
“How many drafts do you do?”
It’s a question authors are often asked, along with “Do you have an agent?”, “Where do you get your ideas?’ and “Do you really think you look good in that?”(Okay, maybe that last one is only aimed at me.)
And the answer to the draft question?
As many as it takes.
Hemingway once famously said “The first draft of anything is rubbish.’
Okay, he didn’t say rubbish – he used a four letter scatological word for something that is also good for the roses – but the old guy was right.
I don’t care what anyone says, first drafts ain’t never great.
I read that Lee Child only writes one, but it is revised as he goes along. Fine. I accept that. No way I’m going to argue with him, just in case he shares Jack Reacher’s propensity for duking it out. But that’s not a single draft, as far as I’m concerned.
The first draft is what you wrote the first time, with no changes, no revision, no starter for ten. I don’t care if it was a paragraph, a chapter or even simply a sentence. What you wrote first is the first draft. I’ve just reread that last sentence. I mean, obvious much?
Some writers just get it all out – the vomit draft, I’ve heard it called – and then clean it up. The idea is to get the basics down, the spine of your story, and then you can flesh it out with subsequent drafts.
Some of them don’t read what they did before, just keep going like the Duracell Bunny.
Others will revise what they did the previous day. That’s effectively a second draft. Then, once they’ve reached the end, they might go back through it again. That’s a third draft for those who are keeping score.
After that, they might have another go (fourth draft) or, if they’re happy, they’ll send it to their agent, who will respond with notes requiring further attention (fifth draft) and then their editor does the same (sixth draft)
However, authors like to call those last sections of the process ‘edits’. And they’re not wrong.
Still, call it what you will, you can often end up rewriting sections.
I hang onto a book until the last possible moment because the words are never as good on the screen as they were in my head the night before, or while I was walking the dogs.
I try to do the vomit draft but I usually end up going back and fiddling with something.
I’m fiddling with something right now. I should stop and do some writing. (Boom–boom)
I thought this particular thriller was finished. I even let people see it.
But then I let it lie for a while before I had a look at it.
What on earth was I thinking? It was nowhere near ready for anyone other than myself and my dogs to see it. They usually sees the ruff drafts. (Thank you, I’m here all week).
So it’s been undergoing a severe overhaul to fill plot holes, fix dialogue and generally make it less aaaarrrrgghhhhsome.
Even so, if it’s ever published, I’m certain an editor will find some things that need attention.
That’ll be another partial draft.
Sounds better that way.
And how many drafts did this blog take?
Just the one.
Can’t you tell?
Sam the butcher is missing, and maverick investigator Dominic Queste is on the case. But it’s not because he misses Sam’s prize-winning steak pies… A dangerous man has arrived in Glasgow. He’s no small-town crook, and he’s leaving a trail of disturbing clues across the city, starting with the missing cousin of Queste’s new lover. Amidst a twisted game of cat and mouse, suspicious coppers and a seemingly random burglary at the judge’s house, Queste has to keep his wits about him. Or he might just find himself on the butcher’s block.
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