Swoon Author Sandy Hall's Editing Update: A Draft to Remember
We, as in authors, talk a lot about planning, writing, revising, and editing. Which makes sense; we devote our lives to these steps and all that they involve.
There are so many nuances and stages to editing, that I thought I’d take some time to talk about something that I feel like gets lost in the shuffle: late stage drafts. Those drafts that aren’t your first or your second, that come before line and copy edits.
For A Prom to Remember I ended up with somewhere in the neighborhood of five drafts before it was all said and done. I wrote a zero draft, where I just threw everything on the page that I could think of, then I had a first draft, a second draft, a third draft, and then line edits, and finally copy edits.
In between my second and third draft, there was still a lot of work that needed to be done. There was so much that needed to be arranged and rearranged that I had to re-outline, which meant, a whole new set of index cards. And if you know anything about me, you know how I feel about index cards.
While planning A Prom to Remember, I assigned
each POV character a color, so I could quickly figure out who was missing and
what characters I hadn’t seen in a while within the narrative. I always thought
of them alphabetically.
After to coming to terms with how much work there was still to be done, I started making new index cards. A very brief scene summary went on the front, and to quickly know whose scene it was, I would use a highlighter that corresponded with the character’s assigned color.
On the back I wrote myself notes about what
action needed to be taken for each of the scenes. Whether they needed to be
moved, or rewritten. Some of them were completely new scenes to fill gaps of
scenes or bits of plot that I’d decided to cut. (In the interest of not wasting
index cards, I cut them into quarters since I didn’t need a lot of space to
Some of the scenes were staying right where they had been and they didn’t need any editing at the moment. So those scenes go happy faces on the back. Because positive reinforcement is good.
I ended up with this beauty when I was finished:
Thirty-five chapters, seventy scenes, and each POV character had ten scenes apiece. Truly a work of art, though I’m fairly biased.
I took this new set of index cards and worked scene by scene, rebuilding a draft that was new and improved and stronger than those that had come before it. So while sometimes it’s difficult, and sometimes you want to throw your computer at the wall, it’s also super rewarding. It just takes time and patience.
And in my case, lots and lots of index cards.