"Some writers are taker-outers; I'm afraid I've always been a natural putter-inner"
On Writing -- Stephen King
I am happy to announce that I am exactly like Mr. Stephen King... well, only when it comes to my 2nd draft habits.
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Stephen King, in his seminal book on the craft, describes that he had a propensity for writing very puffy stories in his early years (high school years). One editor, who rejected one of his short stories gave him the magic formula.
2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 10%
This formula, he claims, was one of the reasons why he believes his writing began to improve. He focused on cutting.
Now, this works for some types of writers. Stevie (yeah, I call him Stevie... we're very close) writes monster novels, typically in the 180,000+ word range.
I am not thay type of writer. It turns out that this is a good thing, since, unless you are Stephen King, publishers shy away (reject) books larger than 100k words.
My first draft is light, typically ranging in the 60k-70k words (see my previous post on 60,000 in ten days).
Writers who have been studying the craft, and have listened to the advice of the veterans, understand that your 1st draft should sit and simmer. Some say two weeks, others say one month. Mine is a minimum of two weeks, but I try my best to get engraossed in something else so that I am away from the story for one month. I want to forget the details. I want to forget the names of some of the characters. I want to forget and create as much distance as possible.
Because when I come back to it, I want to read it like a first-time reader. I want to have distance and objectivity.
When I do return to it for the 2nd draft, themes emerge, the motivation of secondary character crystalize and scenes that I may have glossed over get clarified.
As you can imagine, as I read through, I bubble up with ideas -- ways to complete it, refine it, and improve it. I may even change the ending. I even take out handful of scenes and replaced them with new ones. So it's natural, that the word count will grow.
My propensity for adding is tied directly to the fact that I write my first draft fast. My story world will disintegrate if I don't write it fast. Some facts:
Aces -- 1st Draft = 8 weeks
Rocky Peak -- 1st Draft = 4 weeks
Ten Years -- 1st Draft = 2 weeks
(side note: by writing this data out, I noticed that I have been increasing the velocity of my writing drastically. I hope I don't expect to improve on that when I start the next one.)
So, what this means is that I am a natural putter-inner. And I put in plenty. More facts:
Aces -- 1st Draft = 74,000 --> 2nd Draft = 93,000
Rocky Peak -- 1st Draft = 65,000 --> 2nd Draft = 98,000
Ten Year -- 1st Draft = 60,000 --> 2nd Draft = ???
It goes without say that 2nd and 3rd drafts are nice and slow. They are leisurely strolls through the story world.
What are you? A putter-inner or a taker-outer? Do you add, or cut? Do you sprint through your first draft and then stroll through your 2nd and 3rd drafts?