Thursday, November 27, 2014

How Many Drafts Are Enough? by David S. Brody, author of The Oath of Nimrod



Title: The Oath of Nimrod
Author: David S. Brody
Publisher: Eyes That See
Pages: 283
Genre: Historical Suspense
Format: Paperback/Ebook

 A mysterious race of North American giants. An ancient Hebrew inscription in a Cherokee burial mound. A blood oath made by blindfolded Freemasons. Are these three historical oddities the reason the CIA is trying to brainwash historian Cameron Thorne and his fiancĂ©e Amanda Spencer-Gunn? The answer lies buried in the legends of the Knights Templar, within the rituals of the secretive Freemasons and, most significantly of all, inside the bowels of the Smithsonian Institution. The problem for Cam and Amanda? If they go rummaging around the Smithsonian, they may find themselves buried alongside the ancient giants.

For More Information

  • Oath of Nimrod is available at Amazon.
How Many Drafts are Enough?

Hemingway famously once said that he never finishes a novel, he only abandons them. At the other extreme I have heard of authors (Robert B. Parker is one) whose first draft is, but for the proofreading, the final version. So how many drafts are enough?

I think for a novel of any complexity, the author should plan on four or five drafts before moving to the final version. I think of writing as a bit like sculpting—we start with a lump of clay, give it rough shape, rework it with an eye toward scale and proportion, add the fine details, and then finally polish and buff it. The analogy is not exact, but each draft of the novel should likewise move toward a more polished version of itself.

So why can’t most authors, like Parker, simply pound out a final draft? I think the reason is that most writers don’t know exactly where their story is headed. Unlike a sculptor with a clear vision in his or her head, most fiction writers approach a story by creating three-dimensional characters and setting them loose under a set of challenging circumstances. These characters do amazing, startling, infuriating and brilliant things, most of which the author never sees coming. Our characters are like teenagers—we give them life, but we have no control over them beyond their early, formative years. Once the wild ride is over, the author needs to go back to the early chapters of the story and realign these sections with the ending. This process, in turn, can lead to a few more flashes of inspiration which change the later chapters. It is at this point where most authors share their manuscripts with trusted readers, who, with fresh eyes, suggest insightful and appropriate modifications.  It is only now, after four or five drafts, that the story truly comes together and is ready for polishing and buffing.

I enjoy the Spenser novels as much as anyone, but I think on this question Hemingway is more in the right. Every draft makes the story better, and even the most talented of writers should not expect to begin the polishing process before they have worked through a handful of drafts.

For More Information
David S. Brody is a Boston Globe bestselling fiction writer named Boston's "Best Local Author" by the Boston Phoenix newspaper. A graduate of Tufts University and Georgetown Law School, he is a former Director of the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA) and is an avid researcher in the subject of pre-Columbian exploration of America. He has appeared as a guest expert on documentaries airing on History Channel, Travel Channel, PBS and Discovery Channel.
Contact David.

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