poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘drafts

writing a novel – draft by draft

with 2 comments

Title: Unknown

Working Title: ‘Crossing at a Walk’

Setting: a writers’ retreat – the renovated Landing Church, the hall and the rectory – now used as a Learning Center, a Sleeping Hall and a home/base of operations

Characters: main character Sadie, a writer and manager of a weekend writers’ retreat; her husband Tom, a retired welder; people from the community; writers participating in the first weekend of the writers’ retreat

Plot: Some of the participants in the writer’s retreat become interested in the carving of a woman’s name in a local covered bridge

Story: Sadie works to make the first writers’ retreat go smoothly, but forgets to keep her own life on track


Wheaton Bridge

Wheaton Bridge (Tantramar River #2) in Westmorland County, New Brunswick. This is the bridge where I found the PHOEBE carving in 1992. We re-visited the bridge in early June and the carving no longer exists, probably lost to necessary bridge maintenance.


As I complete work on the fifth draft of my novel ‘Crossing at a Walk’, I am planning how to further improve the book. I am now at about 82,000 words.  I have defined the story and the plot.  Now I have to complete the editing phase.


This blog has proven to be a valuable tool in writing.  It helps me to check my progress against my first book, and to make sure I don’t forget steps in the editing process.  To help with this process, I have made the table below to chart my progress through the various drafts.


Number of words Tools used Objectives
Draft #1 32,000
  • Write early ideas and scenes
  • Create plot
Draft #2 54,000
  • Story board
  • Table of Contents
  • Create story arcs, character story arcs, other sub-plot arcs
  • Define plot and story
Draft #3 65,000
  • Story board
  • Table of Contents
  • Tables showing occurrences of characters and symbols by Chapter
  • Refine story arcs
  • Define symbols
  • Define characters
Draft #4 77,000
  • Reading start to finish
  • First edit (passive voice, adverbs, repeated words, etc.)
Draft #5 83,000
  • Reading aloud
  • SmartEdit for Word program
  • Deep edit (better word choices, repeated words and phrases, punctuation)
Draft #6
  • Reading aloud
  • Reading start to finish
  • Paragraph by paragraph editing
  • Character by character editing


  • Refine  setting descriptions and dialogue
  • Make consistent
  • Obtain opinions on technicalities, plot and story
  • Consider carry-over elements from first book to second, and second book to third
Draft #7
  • Reading start to finish
  • Beta Reader
  • Final author edit
  • Obtain opinions on readability, plot and story


During Draft #5, I began reading my book to my husband and to the members of my two writing groups. Reading aloud is the first test of my audience and helps me find many errors.  In particular, I am able to hear words I have repeated in near proximity to one another.


Also during Draft #5, I have used a tool I found useful in the writing of my first book.  This is SmartEdit for Word  ( a ‘first-pass-editing tool’ designed to help identify errors and problems with writing.  It is Word compatible and works directly with my Word documents. It identifies clichés, adverbs, repeated words and phrases, punctuation errors and so on.  Although it doesn’t take the place of a human editor, it shows the writer possible areas for improvement. SmartEdit for Word can be used free for 10 days or can be purchased for a reasonable price.  I have found it to be trouble-free and worth the cost.


As I begin Draft #6, my objectives are to make elements in the book consistent. This includes listening for the way characters speak, making certain settings are described completely, and ensuring the story arcs are coherent.  I also have to think a little about the third book in the series, so I know what characters I will need and know if I have to make small plot adjustments.


Have you ever used editing software to help with your writing?


Copyright  2015  Jane Tims

Carving of the name Phoebe on a beam of the Tantramar #2 Covered Bridge near Sackville, New Brunswick

Carving of the name Phoebe on a beam of the Tantramar #2 Covered Bridge near Sackville, New Brunswick


Written by jane tims

July 3, 2015 at 10:10 am

writing a novel – the first reads

with 18 comments

So, I have completed the second draft of my novel.  This stage follows the pages of edits I had after reading my book on my e-reader.  It took two long days to make the changes.  I emerged from the experience feeling that I needed a few other eyes on my work before I start another draft.

I am lucky to have two people in my family who have volunteered to look at the draft, my son and my niece.  I am also fortunate to belong to a couple of writer’s groups and some of these brave folk have agreed to give the draft a critical read.  I don’t know what to expect, but it will be so helpful to see their comments, both good and bad.  I am so grateful to them all.

My husband is also listening to the draft.  Just before we watch Coronation Street each evening, I read a chapter from my novel to him.  He is no book-worm, but he listens carefully and gives me his impressions.  He is especially helpful on some of the technical issues.  For example, my main character’s husband, Tom, is a welder, and my husband explained to me that you can’t weld copper to steel.  Also, I find errors as I read.  So, I make a few changes each evening.


copper wind sculpture

Tom, my main character’s husband, is a welder… in the novel, he makes a series of wind sculptures for the writers’ retreat… this wind sculpture is one we have at our real property by the lake


I am rapidly coming to a time when I will leave the draft untouched for about three weeks.  This is Stephen King’s advice (On Writing, 2000).   It will give me a chance to return to my poetry and meet some upcoming deadlines.  Then I will pick up the draft of my novel, to read it as if brand new!  Who knows what idiosyncrasies I will find!!!


For you to read, here is an excerpt from the book, about Tom’s wind sculpture:


‘You shouldn’t be welding, you know,’ I said.  ‘The doctor said you might improve if you stayed away.’

‘The doctor said I’d already done all the damage I could do,’ said Tom.

I was silent.  It was an old argument.  Tom didn’t want to hear about possibilities.  He believed in the frozen-cold facts. 

‘Hey, girl, have a look.’ 

He lifted part of his project from the bench.  The main element was a long cylinder of steel.  In a coil around the cylinder, he had welded a thick, inflexible steel wire.  To the flat end of this wire, Tom had screwed a broad triangle of copper sheeting.  The triangle was shaped like an oak leaf, cupped and angled to catch the wind.  Tom stood the cylinder on its end and it became a tree with a single clinging leaf.  He reached for another piece of formed metal and threaded the two together.  With his hands, he moved the unit, giving me a glimpse of the way it would move in the wind.

‘It’s wonderful,’ I said, always awed by the mellow gleam of the copper and his ingenious designs.  ‘How many leaves will there be?’

‘Nine, in three layers,’ he said. ‘It’ll be taller and quicker than the others.’  He had already finished the first three in a series of these wind mobiles.  Eventually, they would be part of a sort of garden he had planned for the property.  ‘Writers,’ he said, ‘will visit the wind garden and be inspired.’ 

The whisper of the wind and the mobile joinery of the sculpture, the exchange of light between the burnished metal and the shimmering lake, together these would create a magical, rhythmic experience of light, movement and sound, perfect for meditation and contemplation.  


Copyright Jane Tims  2013

Written by jane tims

January 11, 2013 at 7:56 am

%d bloggers like this: