In her book Seven Drafts, Allison Williams suggests that writers take seven passes at completing a book, each constituting a new draft:
1) Vomit draft: Just get the story out on the page. This is the author telling the story to themselves. It can be messy, poorly written, with plot holes—it doesn't matter.
- See First Drafts
2) The story draft: This draft checks the story to ensure it has a strong protagonist with a clear problem, action, obstacle, and goals. Action and conflict are heightened; missing events and plot holes are uncovered; random, meaningless scenes are identified.
- See Story Structure
3) The character draft: The draft is revised for characterization, ensuring that each character has specific wants and clear motivation. Dialogue is reviewed to ensure that each character's voice is distinct. The world of the characters is clarified.
- See CharacterizationCharacterization
- See Dialogue 4) The technical draft: Chapter-level work to ensure that each one works as a distinct unit with a memorable opening and a compelling end that drives the action forward. It also includes scene-level work to make sure that each scene is whole, realistic, and logical in its own right. - See Scene Structure 5) The personal copyedit: Sentence-level work to make sure that the manuscript is clean. 6) The friend edit: Also known as the beta read. The manuscript is offered to a writing buddy or beta reader with specific questions about the story. 7) The editor read: A more demanding (or less friendly, of professional) reader turns a critical eye to the manuscript as a final pass.
Allow the text to sit at least a week between drafts.