Mary E. Pearson

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When authors say they are working on their 2nd draft, does that mean they completely started over or they are doing revisions on their first?

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That depends on the author! When I say I’m working on a second draft, what I mean is that I wrote the first draft, turned it in to my editor, and now I am implementing the notes she gave me. So basically my second draft means I’m editing. A lot of authors prefer to gut their entire manuscript and start over, using the first draft for notes mostly. But every writer is different.

And it can depend on the project too, I think. Some involve a lot more rewriting. Some just need targeted revision in places.

It’s also worth noting that a “first draft” is often a fiftieth. (Meaning the author wrote and revised it a ton on their own, and it’s just the first draft their editor will see for professional revisions. Likewise, the same is true for subsequent drafts.)

I just turned in my first draft of a book, which I started over, started over again, started over again, rewrote from scratch, started over again, edited as I went, and then did some more editing before I could bear to let it out of the house. (Writing is great. *eye twitch*)

For me the drafting process is as clear as mud and 2nd draft usually means more like the 40th because I revise as I go repeatedly and save new drafts that veer in new directions. When I complete a draft I usually go through it a second time before I send to my editor, so I guess that would be the second draft. Yes, more like edits than a whole rewrite.