When a writer or an author says 'I'm done with my first draft," what does that mean? For each writer it means something different--sorry, that's the way it is. I just finished the first draft of Alexander the Destroyer, Volume 6 of the Alexander Galaxus series. It came in at a longer than expected 133,000 words or about 425 pages. Now the industry likes to see non-Tom Clancy novels run about 70,000-100,000 words. They don't like LOTR's type epics. I can understand that; the shorter the novel the more bang for the buck. I've been criticized by a few people that my novels are a 'quick read' but honestly I think that's because they don't put the book down. The shortest novel I've put out there is well above the minimum 70K so the critique is more wishful thinking than relevant. Still, Destroyer will end at whatever length the story demands. I thought it would be about 90K but I never really know where the book is going to lead.
I have one hard and fast rule for the first draft: write whatever comes to mind. The job of the first draft is to get the story on paper. The second draft is a time to fill in the blanks, make sure the story is cohesive, embellish those areas that need it and trim the areas that get too long or too slow. The second draft is also very timeline intensive. It involves double checking that Alexander really had time to get to the Druze Homeworld between making a pass at Nazeera on Pantrixnia and baiting Lahora on Methuselah. The second draft usually takes two to three weeks.
The third draft doesn't take long, usually a week. Its to smooth out the novel and get it in shape for the editor. The editor then spends about two weeks working on grammar, identifying story problems and identifying slow areas. While the editor has it I work on something completely different. This gives me a fresh mind with which to come back and tackle the last phase. I run through the novel at least three more times checking on flow, tweaking scenes, and again checking timelines and character plots. It's a labor intensive process but one which I've developed to try and give you, the reader, a quality product. I take that part seriously. After all, I'm asking you to pay your hard earned money for this. These are quite properly considered 'pulp fiction' novels and are not intended for a Pulitzer prize but for escapist enjoyment, but I want to give you, strike that, sell you a world for you and me to enjoy. That demands a certain amount of professional diligence. I promise, I won't cut corners to get a novel out prematurely; an unpolished product will lessen your enjoyment and embarrass me.
So for those of you waiting on Alexander be patient. He's nearly there. I think he'll be well worth the wait.
Christopher L. Anderson is a husband and a proud father of two kids. With everything else he’s done in his life, being a rocket scientist–literally, a USAF Officer, B-52 Commander, Research Pilot, working for NASA, flying for the airlines, being active in the Church and during all that becoming an established Author, well, it all comes back to the basics, to the foundation of being a husband and a father.