TO A COLUMN / CHAPTER in Dean Wesley Smith’s Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing on the subject of rewriting. DWS takes off from Heinlein’s rules for freelancers:
1) You must write.
2) You must finish what you write.
3) You must not rewrite unless to editorial demand.
4) You must mail your work to someone who can buy it.
5) You must keep the work in the mail until someone buys it.
And types four ways you can work a draft after the first one.
So, to make sure we are all speaking the same language, let me define a few terms that Kristine Kathryn Rusch and I have used for a long time now, and I will try to use in this discussion.
REDRAFT: That’s when you take the typing you have done and toss it away, then write the story again from your memory of the idea. When you are redrafting, you are working from the creative side of your brain.
REWRITE: That’s when you go into a manuscript after it is finished in critical voice and start changing things, usually major things like plot points, character actions, style of sentences, and so on. When you rewrite like this, you are working from the critical side of your mind.
TOUCH-UP DRAFT: When you run through a manuscript fixing small things, things you wrote in notes while writing, things your trusted first reader found. Often very small things or typos. This draft takes almost no time, often less than a day for a full novel, sometimes only a few hours.
SPELL-CHECKING DRAFT: Since so many of us work with our grammar-checkers and spell-checkers off, we need a spell-check draft, often done before the manuscript is given to a first reader. This often takes a an hour or so for a full novel.
Now, I am not the one to take issue with a bunch of pros. And, God knows, I am guilty enough of the self-sabotage of polishing a turd forever. All of the stories of the Dolly Canon were originally conceived — even if they have not yet been drafted — in the period from 2000-2002. Still haven’t finished one yet.
How do you know when a draft is finished?