Advice for Independent Authors: How To Draft

I don’t use Scrivener. I don’t use index cards. This is how I draft my work, and revealing this to you may, in turn, assist you with your own projects. Everyone has a different way of doing it. Here’s mine.

1. Plot

I always plot the basic story out beforehand. I will use paper and pen initially, making changes as the story develops in my mind. Then I will transfer those notes, key events, character beats, important plot points for each chapter, into a document in either Google Docs or Word.

When it comes to plotting, look at classic Hollywood structuring. Look at how certain films work. Read up on how to structure a screenplay so that there is drama, tension and pay-off at the climax. Get yourself a copy of Story by Robert McKee. Read it. You can thank me later.

2. First Draft

This is your rough-and-ready, CRAP draft of your work. As King said, this one’s just for you. Don’t let anyone read it. You’ll die of embarrassment. While writing ‘Age of Destiny’ I got to 50 pages, then decided to scrap them and start again. Sometimes you just have to. The thing was, I could do that because it was a raw draft and not very good anyway.

3. Second Draft

Give it a few days (or whatever works for you – I tend to go back through my drafts only a few days later) then read through from start to finish, on the computer, making changes as you go. This is where you shape it enough that someone else can read your work-in-progress without thinking you’re a total hack.

4. Editorial Pass 1

Now hand it over to your beloved editor and let them work their magic. Prepare yourself for plenty of bad news, but also don’t be too surprised when your Editor leaves notes in your document telling you how good you are. Because they will, you know. Your editor will most likely use Track Changes in Word to suggest changes to your document. If you’ve not used this feature yet, google it and get yourself up to speed. I’d argue it’s maybe the most useful tool included in Microsoft Word. When your Editor sends it back to you, address any comments they’ve left first. Then go through each and every change, approving or denying as you go. If you deny a change, you’d best have a good reason to do so.

5. Hardcopy Draft

This is the point where I will print the entire work out and read from page 1 with a red pen at hand, marking up changes. These I will then add to the document using Track Changes so my editor can see just what has been adjusted.

6. Editorial Pass 2

He/She will then go through your work again. In my case, Laurie will address my changes as she goes about doing her own second round of edits.

7. Final Adjustments

Once your editor has pinged it back to you, it’s your turn to make any final adjustments to the text before uploading it. Sometimes I’ll find something I missed on all the other passes and swiftly go in there and change it.  It’s only a case of re-uploading a book file.

This is how I draft my work. It’s a process (or routine) that has evolved over time. I find it an efficient way of doing things.


On Monday the 20th of October my YA Scifi novel Age of Destiny is OUT! But wait, there’s more. Operation Chimera, the novel I wrote with Matt Cox, published by Curiosity Quills Press, is also out! Both titles are available to pre-order for 99c each, so what are you waiting for?


Order Age of Destiny (The Broken Stars, Book 1)

The Broken Stars Book 1 Cover Blank

Order Operation Chimera (Far From Home)



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