Ray Harper
Ray Harper - Writing
For book 3, The Colony (2): Strife, I adopted the same approach as for book 2. I constructed a plan for all of the chapters in a spreadsheet together with a list of characters and their characteristics updated from the previous book for the changed time period.

The first draft generated the main story in 45,000 words including a prologue to pick up from the first story in the series. The second draft further developed the plot and characters and added an epilogue in another 15,000 words. This draft included raising a minor character to a major character to help develop the plot. The third draft concentrated on improving the descriptions of the weather, the general environment of the action and the characters' clothing, adding another 4000 words.

The chapters were put together in a word processor. Two more read-throughs for spellchecking and fine tuning finished it off. Fine tuning involved a final look for improvements in the choice of words (thesaurus time) and correcting stylistic mistakes (copy editing). I know I have a tendency to put phrases in the wrong place in a sentence so I look out for these. I noticed that I was not using characters names frequently enough, using he/she too often after first giving the name.

These sorts of stylistic errors can be picked up by a copy editor. If you publish through a normal publisher they will provide this service. For book 2 this was the case for me. One problem identified was overuse of the word 'this' for example. If you are self publishing you can still pay for a copy editing service (see Publishing) or you could ask a friend to read it for this purpose.

I was pleased that this story was completed in three drafts. This felt optimum for me and subsequently I have always used three drafts. The previous story with four drafts felt a bit laboured and I would not want to go down to two drafts since that would reduce the opportunities for improving the story.