Writing: drafts retrospective

In the last post, I looked back on how my (lack of) ambition changed since the first ideas to the moments I was actually writing.

Now that I am doing the finishing touches on the sixth draft which is to be the first beta draft, I decided to look back on the individual drafts and the story’s state in them.

First draft (23.10.2015 – 26.11.2016)

Trial and error would be the short description. I had completely no idea what I am doing, I was getting stuck often and so sometimes, I edited older parts instead of going on. The first draft lacked the prologue (which I pushed to later drafts intentionally due to not having some things figured out) and most of the characters used nicknames. In fact, I counted with several of them actively using nicknames through the story, something that changed later.

Second draft (12/2016 – 1/2017)

‘Second draft’ is probably overrated name considering I was just going through it and fixing the most obvious issues without any real editing or changes. I was, still in the learning process, fixing sentences or paragraphs that were too long or ‘overloaded’.

There was some intermission after this stage when I was starting some early work on book two before getting to the third draft.

Third draft (3/2017 – 24.5.2017)

For the first half of that part, I was actually supposed to be writing my bachelor’s thesis but spend much of that time procrastinating by working on the third draft.

The third draft had the first version of the original prologue and several characters got their names – some remained, some changed since then. Actual story changes were still small and the biggest changes were the beginning where, following the intro, I had to rework early chapter one for some decent flow.

After that, another intermission followed where I worked a lot on the second book before getting to the fourth draft.

Fourth draft (9/2017 – 10/2017)

The fourth draft continued with what the third one was doing. At that point, all nicknames were gone, I was making changes to some parts and while they were mostly of smaller scale, there were a few times where I rewrote a significant part of a chapter.

More work went into the prologue, which was in a pretty much second draft as it was only added later. It was not working the way I hoped it and after a few shots, I made a drastic decision: the prologue was removed (and turned into the base of what would be a separate side-read as “book #0,5” at some point) and I changed my approach, the new prologue happening much closer to the main story.

Fifth draft (20.1.2018 – 18.3.2018)

After finishing the first draft of #2 on 18.1., I returned to #1 and at that point, I started doing more changes. For the fifth draft, I actually have quite some notes about the changes I’ve done, in style of game (or software) patch notes.

Following what was done in the fourth draft, the prologue was reworked yet again, to one quite close to the current one (I’ll probably share it in a few days/weeks).

The fifth draft itself had four stages. I’ve been calling them in the style of software 0.5.1 – 0.5.4. During those, probably quarter of the chapters went through significant rewrites, two were removed completely and one added. I tried (and hope that I succeeded) to show more of the characters; their personality and differences. The last few characters without one were given a name (even though some changed in the 6th draft). Some changes were long-coming but only at that point I actually managed to solve those issues.

Apart from that, there were some consistency fixes when it comes to geography or creature naming as well as some chapter splits or merges.

Another intermission followed where I worked on the second draft of #2 and early work on #3.

Sixth draft (1.6.2018 – ongoing)

The biggest change of the current draft was that the word count dropped considerably. The first six chapters were cut drastically, leaving three. What I was trying to tell in them was supposed to tell some background about one of the characters and how he thought about some things yet the changes made in the fifth draft rendered the beginning unnecessary and adding nothing to the story itself.

After that, I made some more fixes to smaller issues like spelling and capitalization/naming consistency. That was followed by a few more smaller cuts and edits and is now being followed by another spelling and grammar check before I officially call it beta version in what I’ll probably internally mark as version 0.6.1 if I am to use the software numbering conventions.


If I was to sum it all up, it feels like I did most of the real work in the last two drafts where I was focusing on improving the story. Between the first and the fifth draft, I read several books which gave me some clues and also gained some hints from group discussions on Goodreads as well as some really helpful bloggers here on WordPress. So, big thanks to all of you!

2 thoughts on “Writing: drafts retrospective

    • Thanks for your comment. I guess one has to start with small things to get into it and only later, with some more experience, realize the larger problems. Learning curve, I’d say.
      The journey might be long but I hope it’ll be all worth it in the end.

      Liked by 2 people

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