Walker writes in reacting to a reader comment about how they were working on their 7th Draft. He's curious about what it actually means to call something "Draft 7."
I write, as I assume most do, in Final Draft. Either my project is done, or it isn't. I couldn't tell you where one round of revisions end and the next begin and I don't save out separate drafts - at least not unless I make a major change like the deletion of an entire scene. Some days I'll sit down with the intention of working on specific things (make all action paragraphs four lines or less, remove the yes/no from the beginning of all dialogue) but I don't feel like writing on the computer lends itself very well to drafts.
Do you think there's any virtue in the practice of separate drafts, or is it a hold over from the paper world?
What do you do?
Have any stories where it's been helpful or harmful to have many drafts laying around?
My method - I count it as a separate draft each time I send it out for feedback - OR if I make a substantive change in the script. That makes it easy for me because if I'm working on my fifth draft and Scott comes back to me with a note that my female protagonist isn't working for him, I can go back to my notes from Bryce on draft 4 where he points out all the ways that that same character works for him.
A reaction like that means that either one of my two readers is wrong, or my changes from draft 4 to draft 5 affected things in a way I hadn't anticipated. (And this can happen. Beware the ripple effect when you add or remove scenes.)
But I absolutely find it useful to have various incarnations of the script saved either by draft number or date.
As for if it's helpful or harmful, well, I never like to advertise which number draft I'm working on when presenting it to outsiders. If I'm showing it to professionals, I never EVER say, "This is my first draft." Everyone's first draft sucks. Don't tell anyone you're trying to impress you're giving them a first draft - and in fact DON'T show anyone important your first draft.
First drafts are to get the idea on paper. Show them to your writer's group, show them to your friends to see how things are playing - but never give out a first draft and be shocked when your reader comes back with notes.
Conversely, I shudder a bit when someone asks me to read their 14th draft. Many great movies probably needed 20 or 30 revisions... but that's also often a result of other people in the process wielding their influence. With writers working on their own, I sometimes see them getting lost in their own story once they cross into a double-digit draft.
That's why when I send out a script to someone, I never put the draft number on there. At most, I'll put the draft date.
What are your thoughts on this everyone?