Thursday, September 16, 2010

What I've Learned - On Writing (4)

This is sort of a sad day for me because it will be my last day recapping my favorite lessons from On Writing by Stephen King. I love this book so much and I highly recommend it to all my writer friends out there! I got my copy at a library sale last year. It was the best $1 I ever spent!

On Writing

Today's lesson is another simple one, but one that hits close to home since I'm working on revisions: Second Draft = First Draft - 10%

Sounds simple, right? Well, for an underwriter like me, it's not so easy. It's more like Second Draft = First Draft + 20%. I know, it's crazy, right? Well, when I tell you the first draft of my current WIP clocked in at 41k, do you believe me now?

I'm trying to get my WIP to top out at about 60k, and then I think I'll be in good shape. I do think about this when I'm revising scenes, though. The idea is to only keep what's important to the novel as a whole. There are things that sound good to me, and then things that are not good for the WIP. For me, I'm using this advice as a way to remember that not everything I wrote in the first draft should end up in the second draft just because I'm short on words. I can always add new scenes that enhance the story.

So On Writing may be finished, but that doesn't mean I'm done learning! Next week, I'll be sharing some tips from Bird by Bird by Ann Lamott.

How do you deal with your second drafts? Are you an over writer on an under writer? Do you employ the formula Stephen King follows??


  1. My second drafts are more like First draft minus 20%. :D But sounds like you have some great direction, and now it's just a matter of getting there. You've chosen some great craft books to learn with.

  2. I usually add 5 to 10 percent after the first read and from there I'm generally cutting. Whatever my word count is at the end of my first draft, it will most likely be within a few thousand words at the end. Adding first, subtracting later.
    All except for my first book which came in way too big at 120,000 - I'm still cutting and revising. It may be the project that never ends...

  3. I am SUCH and overwriter. And my learning experience through this process is figuring out what to cut. :-\