At the end of last month, I went to the UCLA Writers’ Faire. The event, put on by the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, included panels of professors, early/discounted sign-ups for fall classes, meetings with program counselors, and a courtyard full of representatives from local organizations and MFA programs.
The most useful panel I attended was the “Story Staying Power for Novelists” workshop. One of the panelists, a literary fiction writer, said that he does 8 drafts before sending a manuscript to a literary agent. The first draft is the “spaghetti” draft (throwing it against a wall and seeing what sticks), the second draft is fixing the big holes, and the third draft is “spackling.” He then sends to a group of readers, fixes and spackles, and sends to another group of readers, and fixes and spackles. The 8th draft is a meticulous, sentence-by-sentence revision.
So, after I finish this draft (self-imposed deadline: about a week and a half from now), I’ll only have 6 left.