Life after the first draft...

I am nearing that enormously welcome precipice, the completion of the first draft of my novel. (THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN, KEITH!!!) It’s been a long time (like 10 years?) since I’ve visited this place, and I’m curious where the rest of you go from here. From what I can dimly remember, I’ll take a couple of weeks OFF (conveniently enough my daughter is scheduled for major surgery, which will keep me occupied adn off the streets and maybe out of the bars, depending on what vic-k can surface to supply me with). But after that? I’m not so sure, especially now that Scrivener is such a huge part of my life.

I’m thinking I’ll print the whole thing up in hard copy (for which I will have to finally investigate and master “Compile Draft”–EEEEK) and take a quick run through, trying to keep to the forest and not get drawn down the rabbit holes in search of the perfect acorns. Make overall notes on what can be tweaked and what must be destroyed (I hope to pare it down to about 100,000 words; right now it’s at 125,000 and counting). What needs to be hyped up, or explained, background that should be either inserted or removed.

Then go back to the original work on Scrivener and shuffle around. ? This is where I envision it getting messy, transcribing all my red-pencil scribbles to the computer screen. Editing on screen? Transferring my chunky, numerous files (scene by scene mostly but not completely) into chapter folders, maybe even in a new project using the Master Novel Template (or whatever it’s called)?

I have a feeling the phrase “Work in Progress” is going to take on a whole new meaning for me in the coming months.

But I’d love to know how the rest of you go about this stage.



Sounds like you’re moving from version 1 to 1.5, not 2 or 3, so it might be best to keep everything in Scrivener a while longer before compiling and exporting to a word processor. I tend not to print until very late stages, but perhaps a print copy will give you a better perspective on the draft.

You’re going to be condensing and rearranging, and my sense is that it’s easier to do that in Scrivener than a word processor. Also, all your project and document notes are there and accessible. So, you need to get a print copy for reading and marking up.

A quick way to get a print: select all the segments you want to read and click Edit Scrivenings. Edit those as needed, mostly closing up gaps between sections. Then Select All and Copy. Open a word processor and Paste. Add anything else you want, like headers, page numbers, etc. If you’re making a file for a local print shop, print the file as a PDF. That way, you’ll get an exact copy of the WP file.

On the paper copy, make all the edits you wish. When you return to Scrivener, make an archival copy of version 1. (Close up all the folders, select the main one and Duplicate, or Cmd-D) Move version 1 to the Research folder, or export it, and start making edits on version 2. That way, you always have a saved version of the earlier draft.

One final suggestion: ask others to read the draft. Not just friends, but readers who understand writing and editing. They often are your best guides to the parts that you need to expand or compress. If you have an agent, that’s the best service they perform.


The great danger of Life after the First Draft is (in my opinion) that you may never emerge. “Writing is re-writing” said somebody. Yes, but you can (at least, in my experience, some people do) use re-writing and revision as a permanent excuse never to deliver. For whatever reasons, people seem to forget that they’re writing to be read. I once heard a famous English writer say that for him delivering a manuscript to someone else is like having his new-born child torn from his hands. That may be, but no reason not to give it up. The trick is to have a framework of tasks, and to quit when they are done.

Here are two books that can provide such a framework:

Both are highly regarded. I particularly like Browne and King.

Alternatively (if you regard the work from now on essentially as revision) there’s the estimable Holly Lisle’s guide here: It’s brief, straightforward - and wise.

Although I myself like to make notes by hand, when it comes to committing the changes to the computer one of the advantages of Scrivener in the post-first-draft process is that you can use the two-pane editor, keeping the original draft in one pane and cutting and pasting from it and re-writing in the other. Annotations, document notes and the status record are also useful at this stage.

Personally I wouldn’t bother with the Novel Template, since you haven’t started with it. The format for manuscript submission required by publishers and agents isn’t complicated (if that’s the route you’re taking), is easily found on the web and can be compiled by Scrivener and tidied up by a word processor without real difficulty.


P.S. Very much hope things go well with your daughter (Molly?)

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Thank you, my gems, this is exactly the sort of feedback I was hoping for. :smiley:

To address and clarify a few points:

  • I’m using 1.5, but as soon as 2.0 is available, I will snatch it up.

  • As for word processors, I hate them all. I’d much rather just use Scriv for the whole shebang. I have Word, and have heard decent things about Pages, but I’m running Tiger on an ancient lamplike G4 which will probably get replaced by a new Macbook in the near future, so I’m not making any word processor commitments. That was my reasoning behind moving stuff into a new project using the Novel Template.

  • I’ve done this before, in my long and unproductive life–there are three (or maybe four, I’ve lost count) completely finishe and revised full-length novels languishing somewhere in my house, so no, the sooner this one is out of my head, the better–no fear that I will get caught up nurturing it lovingly and painstakingly for a minute longer than necessary (I’ve treated my children in the same manner and relished booting them from the nest at the earliest acceptable opportunity. :laughing: )

  • I do have a few readers picked out, people who are either writers themselves, work in the publishing industry, or in one case, an expert in the field I am setting my novel in. The other two are family–my husband (who has no option) and my daughter (who will find herself WAAAY too busy when the time comes, MUM, to handle it, sorry… :unamused: ).

(I worked as a freelance copyeditor for about twenty years so I have LOTS of experience chopping up other people’s stuff. :smiling_imp: As long as I can summon my schizophrenic out-of-body persona, I should be fine.)

Hugh, many thanks for the excellent book suggestions. I’ve put them in my cart, and downloaded Holly Lisle’s, which I think I will gravitate towards for its sheer simplicity.

Molly is my horse (a Connemnara/Irish Thoroughbred cross). The daughter is Kiara, and curiously enough, the surgery she is facing is very similar to the colic surgery Molly underwent some years ago, and came out of with flying colors. They are both tough cookies, and I’m sure K will do fine. Many thanks for your concern. :slight_smile:


I think druid was suggesting that your novel is currently revision 1, and you are working to make 1.5 not a full rev 2. Might you be spending more time with vic-k under the table than your Mr would approve of?

Not Crone’s is it? I know a few folks who have the misfortune to live with that.

Is that right, Druid? (vic-k, let go of my ankle!! I’m trying to listen. :confused: )

No, not Crohn’s but sort of along those lines. Thank God modern medicine has evolved to the stage where they can happily cure just about everything with laparoscopic surgery. My poor pony, OTOH, has a three-foot scar down her midline. :cry: When she had to have the same process repeated twelve days later, I told them they should put in a zipper.

(You can tell by this–and my board name–where my true affections lie. :smiling_imp: )

Molls, wearing her St. Paddy’s necklace:

Awwww! She’s a cutie!

And you curry her and stuff!



I curry her favours, Dave.
Otherwise she has a wicked buck and can put my teeth in the dust before I’m even aware it’s coming.
She IS a cutie. Thank you. But looks can be deceiving. She’s pure Irish, after all. :smiling_imp:

You aren’t forgetting to soak her oats regularly in Guinness are you?


Hugh - Are your book suggestions applicable for non-fiction/self-help books?

Hello @SuzanneJoyRiley, can I point out thatr Hugh’s post you’re referring to was posted 14 years ago. What is more, it’s quite some years since I’ve seen Hugh posting here.

I do hope he’s still around because he was a fount of help and advice, but …