From rough draft to first draft…by the numbers.

A little peak behind the curtain here.  I just finished the first draft of my 2014 book, Life After Joe.  As an exercise I wanted to see the difference between the two drafts (I tend to follow this schedule: rough draft, edit, first draft, notes, professional edit, final draft).  The biggest changes will usually occur between the rough and first drafts…

1.  Picked a title!  Going into the first draft, I was working with the titles Have You Met Joe?, 213 Days of Joe or the super generic Road Trip.  In the back of my head, ‘Have You Met Joe?’ sounded too much like a catch phrase from HIMYM’s ‘Have you met Ted?’  The days thing seemed too similar to Room 702, and I didn’t want two titles with numbers in them (that makes sense in my mind).  I’m not sure when ‘Life After Joe’ popped on the scene, but I’ve grown to really like it and can’t see it changing.

2.  Added a bunch of words.  I finished the rough draft, knowing and specifically leaving room to add additional chapters.  I went from 84,582 to 99,123 words for a net gain of 14,541.  The final version will most likely hold steady, but I’m prepared to cut an additional 5K if needed.

3.  Went crazy with names.  The supporting romantic interest went from one to another to a final.  About half way through editing, I realized that ALMOST ALL MY CHARACTERS HAD FOUR LETTER NAMES.  Even worse, one family was set upon by the letter J.  Obviously, changes were necessary.

4.  Removing a plot device that went nowhere (mostly because I was lazy).  I had started out each chapter with the date, location and how many miles traveled.  The reality is that 1) that’s incredibly difficult to maintain (especially for a character traveling all over the United States) and 2) I read a book that was written in a more stream of conscious style and decided it was a better fit.

As the book goes out to friends and other readers, I’m excited to hear their feedback!  Now, if only I could decided on a cover image.

What are your thoughts?

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