Thursday, 22 April 2010

Revise. Rinse. Repeat.

With the second draft of Back from the Dead in the agent's inbox, I think it's time to catch my breath and share my experience of the revision process so far.

The last five months have been an intense period of learning about children's fiction, quite possibly the most concentrated burst of craft that I'll ever experience. I'm the kind of person who needs to learn on the job, but sometimes the sheer volume of words, contradictory advice and daily evidence of my ignorance have been a little overwhelming. Especially when all of the time I could feel the market turning slowly away from me like an ocean-going liner.

It's bad enough when you're an unpublished writer trying to get noticed in a sea of submissions, but when you have six editors waiting and a manuscript that's not up to the job - well, that's something else!

Rather than do one megablog, I'm going to make a series of shorter posts over the next week. Let's kick off with some stats (try to stay awake there at the back).

Draft 1 - 51,000 words.
Draft 2 - 47,000 words.

Due to the vagaries of The Magpie Technique (more on this later), I can't do an exact count of how many words from draft 1 made it into draft 2. But a quick count up this morning suggests that it is less than 9,000.

Yep, you read that right. I have completely rewritten 80% of the novel. That's practically a new book. Although my experience is a little extreme, I don't think it's completely unusual. So be prepared for this kind of thing if you get interest from an agent or publisher.

Ok, more later. Let me just close by saying that the second draft is much, much, much better than the first one, in my opinion. All those words were well worth it, whatever happens next.



  1. Good grief! Firstly well done for finishing the new version but - BLIMEY! - you've only kept how much of the first version??? That takes a lot of guts and if I had a hat, I'd definitely take it off to you! Fingers crossed that it's so perfect for the market and so brilliantly written (of course it is) that agents and editors will be beating your door down.

  2. Tomorrow's post will consist of me trying to work out just how the hell that particular statistic happened!

  3. First of all, congratulations again on finishing the new version. And as someone who has actually done quite a radical edit/hatchet job on my own ms, I look forward to reading all your posts on the subject.

  4. . . . and I'm sure this one is unputdownable!