Christian Writing I feel a draft


Senior Member
May 19, 2005
I just completed the second draft of my latest nonfiction MS, Plague, Precept, Prophet, Peace. The first draft felt like I was nearly done and ran to 200 pages (50,000 words). This second draft weighs in at 400 pages (108,000 words). I don’t think I have the strength for a third draft!

You may not want this to happen to you, but perhaps your first draft is too lightweight and you need a way to puff it out. Here is what I did.

Intention. First, this was not an accident (though not entirely welcome). When I completed the first draft, I knew I needed a better wrap up, to make sure I summarized all the main points and tied them up in a bow. Since I did not know how to structure my ending, I got a bunch of blank sheets of paper, skimmed through my book and wrote down the main points. I stared at them and looked for way to order and categorize them.

Post-mortem. Then I did a post mortem. Once I had it all structured, I could see where I was missing pieces of argument or had ideas that I had not defended well or at all. It is so hard to see what is missing! This process showed me things I needed to add. Even then, that only added a hundred pages. However, in summarizing some things about The Gospel of Matthew, I noticed that two ideas I had written about a structure in the Ten Commandments matched some stories in Matthew according to their relative position. That is, the middle commandments matched something in the middle chapters of Matthew. This tantalized me. I hoped the match was a coincidence, but devoted a day to investigating. In the end, I discovered that Matthew is structured precisely according to the Ten Commandments, in their Exodus 20 sequence. That makes Matthew “the Law of Christ” hinted at by Paul. That turned into another fifty pages of MS.

Outlining. I am a strong believer in outlining. I use various apps to help me with this and they benefit me greatly. The problem is when your original outline does not include the things you learn as you write and research further. Even more difficult is when you have scattered ideas and are trying to make sense of how to present them. This time I used the Outlinely app. It is simple and works. For two to three days near the end I wrestled with how to turn the Ten Commandments into a story to explain how Jesus uses them on our behalf, how he fulfills them and turns law into grace. Shifting the commandments around and adding spiritual interpretations drawn from Matthew and elsewhere was made easier by using a good tool. In the end, I was able to find a workable structure and flesh out another half a chapter.

Focus. So if you do a proper post mortem on your supposedly finished book, you may not only find some missing points to add or arguments to bolster, you might make genuinely new discoveries (at least to you - I do not know if anyone else has seen my Law Pattern in Matthew before). I daresay, the most important part of my book Is the part I wrote after I thought it was done. I had a book about the plagues on Egypt and the Ten Commandments, but I was missing grace. The most important thing about the Law is what Jesus used it for - to rescue us and enable us to be free and find peace. You may also find that your book’s focus needs to be sharpened or shifted.

Promises. Finally, make sure you keep your promises. The last thing I did was I looked at the one sentence blurb on my book cover and realized that I had failed to keep its implied promise. That I worked into the final paragraphs of the last chapter. All along I knew where I wanted to end, but I had drifted off course.

Hope you all have success in your editing.
May 24, 2017
Congratulations! I admire your method and immersion in your writing. Will you now put it in a drawer and wait for the dust to settle? You deserve a break.

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