The number of drafts you need to make a good book depends on: its genre, your story arc and plot structure, whether or not the manuscript requires an editing pass before it can be sent off for publication.
Table of contents
- 1. Get to the point quickly.
- 2. Show more than tell.
- 3. Make it simple.
- 4. Avoid adverbs, adjectives, and parentheticals.
- 5. BREAK THE RULES.
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
A book draft is like an experiment, where the writer tries different versions of their stories to create a perfect and a good book.
But how many drafts does it take for you to find that one perfect manuscript? Is it draft 1? Draft 2? Draft 37? Who knows at this point. What is your signal that you've found, “the one?” Your final draft? Do authors simply vomit draft after draft and hope they'll find the one?
This is a hard question with an even harder answer to search for, and no matter what I say, someone will probably complain about it. Nonetheless, let me try.
What I learned from my own experience is that the number of drafts you need depends on your story. For some stories, you'd be done within one draft, or by your third draft; other stories would take more than ten!
There are things that I learned from reading a lot of stories. Here they are!
1. Get to the point quickly.
The reader wants to know what's going on as soon as possible, so find ways to get them into your story early and don't waste time. Who knows who could be reading your book? This person may not be able to sit still through a long paragraph of flowery words. Have a sentence state what is going on quickly and easily.
2. Show more than tell.
People learn through seeing and experiencing. This is why visuals and dialogues work better than prose; people see what's being said rather than hear or read about it. Set the scene and make it easy for readers to comprehend what exactly is going on. As a professional writer, it's your job to be able to write down the scene and convey the message.
3. Make it simple.
When you write, find ways to simplify the story first. Cut off everything unnecessary so that readers will have an easier time understanding your story. Novels that are too long and complicated are going to make the average reader pass on your book. (Note: this is different from the advice in the “Alien” movie where it is suggested to make things complex so that audiences will think they are smart for figuring out the story!)
4. Avoid adverbs, adjectives, and parentheticals.
They may be able to help you explain something more clearly in your mind, but not for readers. It's best if you can explain things with action, visuals and dialogues. It will end up looking more professional and it will be easier for a reader to sit through.
5. BREAK THE RULES.
If there are any number of “rules” that you don't agree with, break them! It's your story, and while you sit and write all the scenes, make it work based on what works best for you. See how you write compared to how another author writes and see if you like the stage you are at, see if you pass your own standards.
Indeed these are just a few tips among many others I can share. But one thing about writing is that you'll only get better by doing it. Keep going, writing sentence after sentence, and eventually, you'll get to a stage wherein you know what it is you want to write or how you want to write.
To improve your writing, I recommend you to keep making book drafts of your story until it feels “right.” When a draft seems perfect for your needs, consider showing someone else who knows about stories and can give some honest opinions about what works and what doesn't.
And if they say it doesn't work? Keep making drafts!
Revisions are also needed a lot when it comes to making various versions of your drafts. Well, just expect you'll end up using a lot of paper (if you're writing on paper, that is.)
Now, those were just some things that I'd noticed on my own reading or creating my own stories, but I'm here to give you some advice about making your very own first draft!
Here are some tips for writing your manuscript!
1. You might not know your voice yet, give yourself time to discover it.
It's important to give yourself time. If you don't feel comfortable or confident with what you've made, it probably means that this is something you can improve upon or evolve further.
If you're unsure how long a story should be, don't worry about it! Just write all of your stories – think of all your scenes and how they are related and linked together; the final decision will be in the editor or publisher's hands anyway. What matters here is that you have a complete story with good grammar and flow to follow.
And don't be afraid to make drafts public, it's a great way to get feedback from others. Maybe see what's already been posted online on someone's page, a work similar to yours and see the comments beneath and learn from that feedback if applicable.
There is also the option of having beta readers read through your drafts before you have them published. A good way to do this is to ask some of your friends or followers to be your beta readers so that a pair of fresh eyes can see what's happening in your book, and provide feedback quickly and easily.
There are several ways to do this, maybe posting your story online or telling others about what you've written so they can give you some feedback.
You could also ask someone else with more experience to look over what you made and tell you what they think works and doesn't work. They can help you go back and see what should be changed in the revision process.
Experiment by trying out different genres of stories or styles of writing to see which one suits you the best. Don't pressure yourself, and encourage yourself!
2. Write a draft without editing it for the quickest results!
If you write a book draft without editing, you can immediately see how it is you write the flow and what you lack and what you can do to improve your writing.
Software programs can make things much easier for writing, especially if it's designed to help with editing and grammar.
Make a mind map before writing your draft! This makes it much easier to create a story with lots of detail and world-building, without having to hold all the information in your head at once. Mind maps can be made on paper or as a digital file (Google Docs works well for this). This tip also works for non-fiction books, to keep track of everything you want to write and what you have already written.
You can keep adding to your mind map as you write your draft, allowing you to add details, characters, and other things that come up along the way. You can even organize chapters or scenes from your story into different categories in a separate document. They are very useful tools to outline your work.
Don't be afraid of making mistakes! This becomes easier once you accept that you will still make mistakes even after your tenth draft of a story. And that's okay! Stories are always evolving and changing, which is why you should be open to making changes and accepting criticism when necessary.
Don't be afraid to tell stories that people don't want to hear (for now). It just means that there will have to be more drafts until you find your audience.
Prepare yourself for lots of editing! It's an inevitable part of writing, and it's a very important one too, so you should put some time into learning about it.
3. Read other books in your chosen genre!
This will allow you to have an idea of how other authors build their story and you can learn tips and tricks they use when they make their own works. It lets you see other books' strengths and weaknesses, and thus learn from them.
And, this will help you get as many writing tips and tricks down!
Get familiar with some of the most common and important techniques to improve your writing, such as dialogue, description, internal struggles, plot twists.
Read books or articles on how you can make your writing better! You'll find that there are tons of good literature out there for writers.
Sometimes, we get stuck trying to think of what words to use or how to make our story interesting, but there is no need for that. One way to look for words is simply by looking through the dictionary, but this may not give you many suggestions.
Try to get some hints just from browsing online; there are a lot of dictionaries and word finders available online! There are even sites where writers can submit their own works and see how many submissions they have received.
4. Be willing to change your mind as you write each new draft of your book.
You'll have to experiment with things before you find what works best for you!
If you need help, then consider hiring a book editor who can give professional advice and critique. Or, even hire a professional proofreader to look over your work before publishing.
These are some of the most effective ways of making a finalized manuscript. Of course, people work and function in different ways so take all these tips and use them how you see fit. But most importantly, don't stress out too much! Take it easy and enjoy every step of the process!
When you are done editing, do a final read-through to check for any mistakes. If there are none, then you've successfully made it through all your drafts to make an excellent book. Congratulations!
There is no need to rush when writing. Make sure you're doing everything right and not rushing through each draft or even each chapter of a manuscript.
Readers love your work because they see that you are willing to put in the time and effort into writing something great for them. So take it slow but steady!
So with those 4 steps in mind…
The amount of drafts made is really up to the author themself because this stage is made for them to experiment and explore. But when you find what it is you are looking for—even if you don't know what that is—you'll feel it and be proud, because it's yours. Don't rush, you'll get there.
(And don't forget your map!)
There is no perfect way to write a book.
What's important is that you write your story and make it the best you can.
And don't forget to have fun!
No one knows how many drafts are needed to write a good book because there are so many parts of the writing process which need multiple revisions and rewrites. Also, no two people write in the same way, so there really isn't one perfect number.
The number of drafts you need depends on your own writing style and preferences as well as what type of book you are trying to write. For example, a fantasy novel will have different requirements from fiction or nonfiction books.
Writing doesn't always come naturally for everyone. It takes a lot of practice to get good at it. Everyone's writing style is different, which means that everyone writes in their own unique way.
You may need to write your book multiple times before you are happy with the result. At this stage, there is no right or wrong number of drafts for you to do. Just make sure that you take your time to get it right.
Although there isn't a perfect number of drafts for writing a good book, here are some things that you may need to do:
Write as many drafts as you need until you think the story is ready. For example, if your first draft is just an idea in your head then it may need a lot of work.
Keep revising your book until you are happy with the outcome. Don't rush this stage because this is when it gets exciting!
Change your writing style in each draft to reflect who you are as an author. For example, if you write young adult fiction then your book will have more YA-friendly language, and the same goes for fantasy novels.
These are tips that I've found helpful when writing my own books and reading about how other people write their books, and I think could be useful for other writers as well. It's not definitive by any means; there might even be better ways out there! So please: don't copy the advice in this article, but use it as a guideline (or a map) and find your own writing style.
These are my tips for you if you want to write a book!
If you enjoyed reading it and think other people might too, consider sharing the link on social media or with friends! Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about writing.