The Professional Working Draft

Professional Working DraftNever mind that I’m 65% through editing and still don’t know if the novel is any good: do I have a professional working draft?

A professional working draft comes at the end of one or more rounds of internal edits; no copy editing, line editing or proof reading. We’re still in the early stages. In short, does the manuscript work?

Developmental Editor Anne Hawley at Pages and Platforms has six key criteria. Lifted from Anne’s Story Path crime-story presentation slides, her idea of the Professional Working Draft  :

  • has a protagonist pursuing a singular desire
  • …which establishes clear stakes
  • …and causes them to undergo a change as they pursue it
  • has a story premise that’s reflected in every scene
  • is driving toward the emotion your audience expects to feel
  • has the specific characters and moments the audience for your Story Type expects.

This is a step on from the Dirty Draft which is a straight-through complete version of the story without any edits at all. The aim of the Dirty Draft is just to power through to the end. No revisions or rewrites.

There’s lots of conflicting advice as to how many drafts you should have. Some coaches prioritise Developmental Edits over everything else. The Seven-draft system contains the Dirty Draft, the Character Draft, the Technical Draft, the Personal Edit, the Beta draft, the Editor Draft. These terms mean different things (or nothing) to different authors and editors. And there are further drafts for the copy-edit and  proof-read.

In reality, the number doesn’t matter so much as the end result. What’s important is the Professional Working Draft from which is the foundation of all the other stages.



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