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Writing Books/Editing a rough draft.


Hi Vincent. Through Jan I blitzed a rough draft for my
first novel, it is around 70k words, I believe it has a
good plot and will be an enjoyable read however I realise
it needs a lot of work - I knew I was making mistakes, and continuity errors as I was writing but I did not want to
stop writing while I was flowing - yesterday I did a light
edit purely focusing on spelling and grammar. I would like
to know what you believe to be the best way to do a first
draft, I have printed the manuscript and was just about to
read slowly through it editing/making notes but wondered if
you have any tips/expertise on this. Thanks

There are two main attitudes toward first drafts.  One is to pound right through it while the ideas are coming hot and heavy and get it all down, then go back later to edit and polish.  The other is to take your time and be methodical about it, so that there's far less editing to be done when the draft is complete.

You obviously take the first approach.  I take the second.  But it's important to point out that neither method is inherently better than the other.  There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and I just say to go with whichever one feels more natural to you.

Now, as for the editing part...

I'm sure you realize there's a heck of a lot more to editing than grammar, spelling and punctuation.  Revising your work is a huge task and entire books are written on just this subject, so I'm clearly not going to be able to give you a lot of guidance in this forum.

But I'll give you this, anyway, which I hope is useful...

There are perhaps half a dozen critical things to focus upon when revising.  I recommend you don't try to work on all of them simultaneously, however, but go over your manuscript several times.

You already mentioned continuity problems, and that's one of the things to be concerned with.  The others are dialogue, pacing, structure, description, and a sort of vague "general" thing that looks for everything else (character motivations, contrived actions, etc.).

If you haven't already done this, I suggest getting your hands on a few excellent books on fiction writing.  Check your local library or bookstore, or even (reader reviews can be very helpful when you can't pick up the book and look through it yourself).

Hope that's of some help!

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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