Writing the final draft of your novel…or maybe the second last draft

Words taking flight!

Words taking flight!

Sometimes it’s hard to tell! I’m currently on the 4th draft of The Grey Silk Purse. I believe it is the second last draft but then I thought the 5th draft of Tomaree was the last way back in around 2004. The last was actually finished (the 8th) in 2008 so you see it’s a tricky business!

Ideally, of course, when a writer believes they are on the home stretch they should put the manuscript away for a few months and only then have another look before completing the final draft. I wish! I’d love to have the luxury of being able to do that but, frankly, I would go mad! Not writing is not a option for me!

An alternative the experts say is a change of scene. Wouldn’t a European trip be lovely? Paris, Rome, several mountains in Switzerland, a week in Venice. A mediterranean cruise I’m sure would clear a few cobwebs. One can dream!!
Crossing out those two options, what can be done to clear the air so that we can approach our manuscript with fresh eyes? My suggestion and what I am currently doing is:

Read someone who writes completely differently from ourselves; preferably someone whose style, sentence constructions, choice of subject matter is alien. 

Immediately for me two writers step forward. The first is Philip Roth. In my review of The Human Stain I talk about what it is like to read a Philip Roth. It is like being picked up by the scruff of the neck and dragged along. You can kick and scream against the intensity and speed that you are travelling but somehow you just can’t put the book down.

The other writer is John Banville. In his magnificent novel The Sea the reader is relentlessly tossed and scoured by his prose which sweeps the reader from the shore to the depths of the ocean, often dragged mercilessly under to surface gasping for breath.

Either of these writers will do nicely to give me a fresh eye! I chose John Banville and here is my review of Eclipse, the first book in his Alexander Cleave trilogy.

Eclipse by John Banville

I’m not sure if I’ll make it through the other two books before going back to The Grey Silk Purse but I will try!


12 thoughts on “Writing the final draft of your novel…or maybe the second last draft

  1. Hi Debbie. Another suggestion is to begin a new project. What better way to get over the frustration of straightening out an existing novel than embracing the frustration of a totally new one. 🙂


    • Thanks Linda. I do have a screenplay 3/4 finished but don’t seem to have the motivation at the moment. Just want to get this one finished and I will start my new one set in Sydney in the Twenties. Can’t wait!


  2. Hi Debbie … not to add to your worries but I’m working on what must be at least the tenth draft of one of my novels. Some stories seem to be more elusive than others. In this case, I was able to get some help from an editor – and the advantage of a fresh pair of eyes. As others say, a change helps too!


  3. This post has come at a good time for me. Think I’ll get more reading done, get back to posting on my blog, arranging more interviews etc. And I may have a go at writing some more short stories.


    • Yes, you really do need a break sometimes and I do believe blogging is good when you encounter a problem with your writing. You can work it out in a post and hey, there’s your latest blog! Or, as you say, get some serious reading done, particularly an author, I would suggest who has a completely different style of writing to yours.


      • I don’t like to do more than 1,000 words in one sitting, and actually prefer about 600. But I don’t write all year ’round. I’ve just finished a short novel (well, actually I’m giving it a final check while Ron is formatting it for Kindle) and I’ll now have a.long break. Do you write all year?


      • I think that is a good practice. More than 1,000 words in one sitting is too much I think! I don’t write all year. I have had about five weeks off at the moment. Getting back to The Grey Silk Purse to do a major rewrite this week. Paris Next Week will have to stay on the back burner for a little while!


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