Not too long ago, a friend asked me to read his book. He’d written a rough draft and wasn’t sure what to do after that. After reading it, I explained how writing a book involves five different drafts. He was surprised to hear that. Most people are.
Back in July 2016, I thought I had found the perfect method for writing a book with two passes (one for me, one for the reader), grammar checking, handing off to a reader or two, and final tweaks. Then I realized it didn’t take into consideration the difference between one paragraph ideas and those that turn into a couple of pages, if not whole chapters. So I started my hunt again, looking for something a little more expansive, but still disciplined enough to keep me from infinite draft syndrome.
I stumbled across Jeff Goins’ five drafts method in a link from his How to Not Waste Your Words: The Secret to Writing a Crappy but Usable First Draft article. The 5-draft method is more along the lines of the way I think. It doesn’t compress things too much and has the flexibility to accommodate all the material I already have. Also, he labels its phases with cool words that actually describe how to treat something.
After reading through Jeff’s article a couple of times to make sure I understand the nuances in its simplicity, I went through all my Scrivener projects and rated every book, chapter, and idea within them along his guidelines with a few additions. I broke out a few more books that could stand on their own while keeping the ones that couldn’t in their respective series incubators, which also contain the characters, series order, timelines, and any other research that I need. Independent books not tied to a series have their own project. Making sure I kept things simplified, I reduced the number of projects on my tablet from the Thanksgiving high where I was away from my desktop down to the four books I’m working on plus their respective incubator projects.
Scrivener has the ability to give items a label and status. The labels refine the statuses so with one color coded glance I know exactly where I’m at.
Status is where I use Jeff’s method with my two additions for the book level.
During the Surgery and Last stages, Jeff suggests it’s time to get other people involved since the manuscript is at the point of memorization. He reminds us that “All feedback is a gift, if you choose to see it that way.” Personally, I do. Yes, ego, heart, and soul have their place in writing, but how can one improve if they don’t let people offer advice and suggestions? It’s all about accepting criticism with grace.
I’m ranking my WIP’s based on the average stage of the chapters. Since none of them are complete and all of them need ideas, they have fallen into the Junk stage at this point. I’m not throwing any of them away though. Once they are the listed on the sidebar or any page of this site, I’m committed to them. Although there are more than the four “in progress” at this time, it’s easier to keep the list down to the ones I’m concentrating on.
To accommodate the handoffs to people and grammar checking programs, the site will display the stages reflecting this.
Do you use Scrivener or some other book organizing software? If so, what are your label and statuses? Leave a note in the comments.