Wanting to write a novel is just half the battle. Any new writer knows just having an idea in their minds and perhaps an outline of how the overall story is going to go is just the beginning of the work that lies ahead. Of course, for those who are doing historical or even science fiction novels there is research to perform. Fiction is one thing but readers still want some fact that they can pull from.
Once all this is done, it’s now time to write the novel. Then write it again, and again. Yes, before a novel is done it could go through many drafts as we edit and polish it. The question though is how many drafts does a novel actually require? Some might say as many as it takes. The only problem is that some of us may be forever editing and rewriting a novel to get it perfect, and this can lead to over-editing. So, with this in mind let's look at a method known as the 5 draft method that some writers follow in order to work efficiently and effectively.
Draft 1: The Junk Draft
This is the draft where the writer just lets the ideas flow forth. Just get everything down on paper or typed out. It's the draft where we don't stop to think too much just get the bare bones of the story into existence.
Draft 2: The Structuring Draft
The second draft is where its time to look over everything that was written in the first draft. Now after getting done having a good laugh, time to start picking it apart. Figuring out if there is a good flow if the plot makes any sense at all. This is also the point where the writer decides if there is really a novel here and if the story does have potential if so time to move forward.
Draft 3: The Rough Draft
Now it's time to put the story in proper manuscript form. Keep in mind though that this is still a beginning stage so don't overanalyze grammar or flow or thinking about whether some of the content is really needed at this point. Just get the story in this form from beginning to end.
Draft 4: The Analytical Draft or Surgical Draft
The fourth draft is where the story starts to be picked apart. Should some stuff be removed, some things added to make some of the plot more clear. How is the sentence structure, and the grammar? Does the content make sense and do the characters make sense. Sometimes a writer may need to have an impartial person they can rely on to help them with this draft because sometimes we are too close to our work to analyze it ourselves. Keep an open mind though to what the other person is saying, remember if the book isn't making sense to them odds are it won't to other readers.
Draft 5: Final Draft
The fifth draft is where a writer goes through their work yet again to tweak things again. Let's remember that sometimes we may think our work has been edited enough but turns out there are still some things that can be fixed. Some advice where this draft is concerned put the novel aside for a while before reading it. Why, because going back to it after some time can give you a fresh perspective and be able to maybe catch editing issues that might not have been caught had it been looked after right after the fourth draft.
There is the 5 draft method to edition a book. The bottom line is this is just a guideline no one can tell a writer how many drafts to actually do on their novel. Just keep in mind eventually you will have to get done editing the story and be happy with the way it is, in order to polish it, publish it and move on to your next story idea.