Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dispelling the Myth: Doing Your Third Draft

One often thinks that by the second draft, you've got the book in hand. In fact, that's not far from the truth. The bulk of the text is written; the bulk of the research is complete. So then, it should be a wrap, right?

Well, no. Not quite. Not even close. While all of the above is true, the next stage is the sculpting one. For many of us, the 2nd draft is like a giant lump of clay. It might resemble the figure it will eventually become, but there's still a ton of shaping to do, most of which will involve cutting, remodeling and more cutting. Like each of the prior stages, it's a process. If you have good editors onboard (and I do), they're going to tell you the blunt truth, which is that it's lacking some things, and has too much of others. This is the stage where you address those issues and make it something that people can enjoy and learn from, without feeling like they're taking a course, or that they're being shortchanged. My style tends to lean towards the former, and while I know there's some of you who love that kind of thing, the bulk of readers (and I don't mean the masses; I mean the majority who do read books, even academic ones like this one's turning into) want something that's interesting, entertaining, educational and digestible. Achieving that in your third or fourth draft is the challenge, and key to a book you can be proud to have your name on.

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