I’m really really really not a one-draft writer. At some point, I hope to dazzle you all with an illustration of how much I’m not a one-drafter, but today is not that day. Generally a first draft for me runs very short — somewhere between 1/3 and 3/4 of the final length.
To paraphrase how Tim Powers described my first drafts at Clarion: the stage is bare, the actors are auditioning as the scriptwriter’s in the front row re-writing the piece, and there’s only tape on the stage to tell them where to stand. They’re not quite that threadbare, but the layer I get written first is the plot (the piece he said this about, I’d gotten the bones down for a three-plotline short that was 3,800 words and, at most, 1/3 to 1/2 its final length).
Vylar Kaftan talks about her revision statistics, including her A, B, C system for stories.
So below are mine. My first drafts fall kind of between A and B. Right now, they’re in C shape, but if I were done re-thinking them, they’d be moved up to the next categories. Submitted Previously, well, those are Bs. Out at a Market and Sold, obviously, are As.
Until such time as I have a sufficiently developed draft, there’s no point in categorizing it, but most of my pieces need significant steeping. The most recent piece I have out at market was one I wrote the first draft of in 2007. The oldest is one I wrote the first draft of in 1990, one of the first shorts I wrote and one of the most difficult pieces I’ve written.