Rewriting: Draft Passes (A Helpful Writing Tip)

The passing lane. Like a draft pass. Right?

Ah, rewriting. So fun! So engaging! So intense! I’m serious, I actually really like it. But it can also be mind-boggling.  Where to begin? How to approach it? What to do?

One concept that may be useful to you is that of draft passes.  I’ve done this myself and recommended it to others, but I’ve never had a tricky name for it until now. And for that, I thank Rachael Herron, who mentions it in her new (and highly recommended) book,  Fast Draft Your Memoir: Write Your Life.  

A draft pass is when you go through your manuscript looking for one specific thing and that thing only.  For instance, you might want to track the throughline of a subplot.  Or check that the description of a character is consistent throughout.  Or look at and vary how you note character movements. (I tend to have all my characters shrug, nod, and blow out long streams of breath, for instance.)

Isolating this one thing makes it easier to track it in the morass of pages that constitute a novel.  Draft passes work best after the bulk of your rewriting is done and you’re finished with the big story questions.  For instance, I just got notes from my agent on the rewrite of my romance novel. One thing I need to do a draft pass on is my two main characters thinking how attractive they each find the other.  There’s way too much of it, and readers need to see it rather than have it told to them. Another draft pass will be devoted to heightening the main character’s motivation for not allowing herself to be swept off her feet by the hero.

I liken the process of draft passes to gently pulling pages of the manuscript apart and dropping a few pithy new words on sentences or even a scene in.   You can use the search feature to help you find what you need, or, hopefully somewhere you have a list of scenes that will guide you.  (If you don’t, I recommend you create one immediately!) And I’m sure those of you who use Scrivener have all kinds of cool ways to track things that I’m not aware of.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Janice Hardy had an excellent article on the difference between revision, rewriting, and redrafting on her blog this week. Check it out.

Have you ever done draft passes? Leave a comment or come over to the Facebook page and discuss.

P.S.–this post contains one teeny, tiny affiliate link.

Quick Writing Tip: The Uses (and Abuses) of TK

I’ve seen a couple posts about using TK recently (though damned if I can remember where), which tells me it is in the zeitgeist, which tells me it it time to write about it.  asok_project365_mydesk_1059218_h

What is TK, you ask? Some people say it is short for “to come,” which makes a certain kind of sense if you ignore that pesky K.  But “to come” is definitely the spirit of TK, whether or not it is actually short for it. You put TK in your manuscript wherever you don’t yet know what should be in there.  Not certain of your character’s name? Call him TK. Need to insert a bit of research but don’t want to stop to look it up? Add a TK. You get the drift.

The reason this works so well is this: T and K are the only two letters of the alphabet that never occur next to each other in a word. So when you’re cleaning up your draft, you can do a search for TK and find all the places you inserted it much more easily than using, say XX.

I use TKs liberally throughout my drafts.  And here’s where the abusing part comes in: sometimes one can use them a bit too liberally.  In this case, you’ll end up with a draft so full of holes it might as well not be a draft. Don’t let TK become a substitute for the basic writing you need to do.

But besides that little caution, there’s not much to worry about with the TK. So TK away!

Photo by orangeacid.