How many times do you edit your novel? I've asked several people this question and gotten varied results: three times, seven time, ten times. Some even edit as they write.

Personally, I edit my novel five times using what I call, “The Five-Draft Plan,” I get good results. Every time. What is “The Five-Draft Plan?” Read on and you shall see.

Statue Chemin De Croix Calac

Photo by GwiR

Building Your Statue

Think of “The Five-Draft Plan” as building a statue. The statue is your story, and you want to perfect it before putting it up for display.

1. First Draft

Write. Just write. Don't think, don't plan, don't outline, just write. The more thinking you do, the slower the writing process gets.

Chances are you barely have time to write in the first place. Write without thinking about the editing you'll have to do later. Don't go back and definitely don't edit. Resist the urge to tweak!

Your statue isn't even a statue yet. You're just pouring a big block of cement. Don't worry about the fine details yet. If you need to warm-up before the no-thinking process begins, try some free writing.

2. The Second Draft

This is your first big edit. Your block of cement is waiting. Take the first big swing with your hammer and chisel away. This is your chance to fix any major plot holes or character development issues. Find and fix any big mistakes you see.

Once you've gone through your whole novel, you'll be ready to move on to the third draft.

3. The Third Draft

This is where the editing gets fun.

Is your statue beginning to take shape? Can you make out a design yet? It's time to work on some details. Take a look at your word choice and your sentence structures. Do some line-by-line edits to really make your manuscript sparkle. Y

our story should start to flow together nicely.

4. The Fourth Draft

Oops! You've missed a few spots on your statue. Spelling and grammar mistakes might not be the most fun things to fix, but it's necessary that you proofread your novel.

Have you ever come across mistakes such as these in books that you've read? I have. When I see one, I cringe. You don't want your readers to cringe while reading your book.

Spellcheck is your friend.

5. The Fifth Draft

You're almost done! Your hard work is about to pay off! But hold up on the victory dance. It's time to ship your statue off to be perfected.

Send your novel to your critique partners and few close and trusted friends. Have them send you their edits and change what needs to be changed.

Remember, you don't have to listen to everything they say, but always consider everything thoughtfully and take their advice whenever necessary.

Your novel should be as close to perfect as you can get it to be by now. That wasn't too hard, was it? Now you get to write your query letter and start looking for agents! (Yay)!

How many drafts do you use when you edit?


Let's practice using “The Five-Draft Plan” in our writing. Write a short story or poem for fifteen minutes. When your time is up, use “The Five-Draft Plan” to edit your work. Post your Practice in the comments and give your fellow writers some feedback.

Have fun!

The Magic Violinist is a young author who writes mostly fantasy stories. She loves to play with her dog and spend time with her family. Oh, and she's homeschooled. You can visit her blog at You can also follow The Magic Violinist on Twitter (@Magic_Violinist).

Share to...