Novellas: The Drafts Edition


There’s an age old question newbie novel writers tend to ask via their trusty friend, Google. How many drafts should they write of their novella before it’s ready for publication? I’ve been asking myself and Google this very question for a couple of weeks. I’m in the middle of my second draft of my first novella. To be frank, it’s beginning to annoy me. Anyway, I thought this topic was ideal as a blog post and here we are. To diffuse the issue I did research and remembered that novellas are not full-length novel, though it isn’t a short story either.

What Are Novellas?

Novellas are long form short stories. A typical novella spans from 17,000 words to around 40,000 words. Other writers say novellas are between Another term for a novella is typically a long short, story hence the reason for no chapters and no chapter titles. What makes novellas unique is they are not a full novel, but they aren’t exactly a short story either.

What Sources Say

With the research I have done, I cannot find anything about how many drafts of a novella need to be written before publication. Although, from information I found about regular length novels, 5-7 drafts is generally enough. Each draft is always an improvement on the previous. Some people say three drafts while others say 11. It all depends on the writer and how well thought out they have their story planned out. For some authors, they write over 13 drafts before they get their story to the way they want it.

Here’s a few authors and how many times they write drafts before they’re satisfied.
• Stephen King – Up to 3
Leslie Rose – 11
• Karen Woodward – 7

What Draft Does What

Each draft you write will strengthen your story. Let’s take a look at what the first four drafts mean.

First Draft

The first draft is often the most fun. It is where you get your idea out on the screen or a piece of paper. Most authors call this the VOMIT draft. It may not sound appealing, but it is what it is.

Second Draft

The second draft is where the writing really starts. It begins the journey of the STORY ARC. Some authors call this draft the GROWING PAINS draft. While reading your draft from the screen of your computer or tablet, the way to find your mistakes comes from a hard copy. Yes, you actually have to print your manuscript out. By doing this, you find more errors than what you would if you were editing your work on your computer screen.

Third Draft

You’ve completed your second draft. Congratulations. Now, it is time to write your third. This draft is where you focus on the MAIN CHARACTER(S) and SUPPORTING CHARACTERS. This is when you also focus on your character development.

Fourth Draft

You’ve written your vomit draft and your story arc draft. You have also completed your character development draft. That’s three. Onto the fourth. By now, your story will have started to take shape the way you always intended it to go. Some things have changed – either by choice or because the story has gone on a different route than originally thought. The fourth draft is where you hunt out those pesky SPELLING AND GRAMMAR ERRORS. Who loves this draft. *No one puts their hand up* Yeah, me neither. A little tip for anyone that is up to this draft. If you feel you’re struggling to identify the errors, ask someone you trust to double (and triple) check for anything you might have missed.


In conclusion, nothing says a good book than the story being well written. Take as much time as you need to make sure your story is as good as possible. After all, every writer dreams of making it big. Use this article as a basic guide for your first four drafts. Depending on what you’re writing about and how experienced you are, you may only need a couple of drafts – you may need more. Again, it’s entirely up to you. After all, it’s your story.


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