The process of writing a book (5/6): Second drafts

Now, you’ve gotten there, congratulations. Your book is in that first draft, but you have to shape it.

Your first draft is a potential diamond, so you have to extract it. Diamonds, at the beginning, are cover in dirt and dust. But if you polish them and apply the right pressure, a diamond is gonna come out.

Your first draft (just like everybody’s one) is cover in dirt and dust, so you need to apply pressure and polish it.

First, apply pressure:

  1. Delete everything that is not on your theme. If something’s out of the theme, get it out.
  2. Sometimes you won’t have it clear whether it is on theme our out. So ask yourself, if I remove this chapter would still be the same? Or will it loss some essence? If nothing happens, remove it.
  3. Imagine you have to pay 10 cents per word translated, and you have to translate your book into five languages. Would you remove that word? This is critical to come up with a diamond. Remove any unnecessary word.

Important: Too often writes fail into the trap of measuring the book on how many pages it has. I believe this is a big mistake. Do not measure by words, measure by ideas. I don’t care if your 200 page book ends up in 80 pages, believe me, the reader would appreciate that you respect her time. There’s nothing I hate the most of reading book that could have been reduced by its half.

Now it’s time to polish it.

You can have the best idea in the world and even have done a nice job writing it, but the way you present your idea is critical.

Usually the first draft is for yourself but the second one is for the reader. This is an important step. Now it’s time to polish it and put yourself in the shoes of your reader—which means answering these questions (remember, from the reader’s perspective):

  • Is this worth my precious time?
  • Why would I care about this?
  • What does this mean for me?

Go through every chapter and meet the spec. Check your tone and bring value for the reader.

You’ll have to go through everything several times so don’t panic. Just, polish it.