What Makes Great Writing?

· revising

One thing I always tell aspiring writers is that great writing is really just re-writing.

Almost all of the writers I know don’t usually write beautiful, amazing first drafts. (Some do! But most of us don’t.)

Most books take multiple drafts to work out the proper story and then more revising to make the prose really shine on the sentence level.

When I was mentoring last year for Pitch Wars, I explained to my mentee that even though we’d be revising a good amount of her book in our edits, an agent would have more revisions as would any editor that might buy the book in the future.

My mentee then asked how many drafts CTNFTW went through. I did the math and told her I’d done at least around eight rounds of revisions!

After I finished the first (very rough) draft, I did my own revising based on reader feedback and my own notes. Then my agent and I did two more revisions before we went on submission. Then, my editor and I went back and forth at least three times doing even more revisions. After that, there were copy edits and pass pages. WHEW.

Needless to say, that is a lot of drafts and a lot of re-writing. But, it also proves my point that no one is great writer the first time they write or type their thoughts out. (I even revise this newsletter multiple times too!)

The great writers that you can think of are great, not because well-written, emotional writing just appears out of their heads, but because they work at it. They keep revising, editing, and re-writing until their words really sing.

So no. Not everyone is a fantastic, amazing writer from the get-go.

BUT anyone can be a great writer. It just takes practice and many, many, many drafts. 😊

How many drafts do you typically write? Come chat with me about it on Twitter or Instagram. I’m always excited to chat about writing and revisions!

A version of this story appeared in Wolves and Wonder, my monthly newsletter that includes no nonsense writing advice along with book updates and sci-fi inspiration. Get it in your inbox; you’ll love it.