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Finish Your Book in Three Drafts: How to Write a Book, Revise a Book, and Complete a Book While You Still Love It

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How do you write a book? Stuart Horwitz helps you do it in three drafts. Three drafts: that's all you need.

- The messy draft: which is all about getting it down.

- The method draft: which is all about making sense.

- The polished draft: which is all about making it good.

Finish Your Book in Three Drafts is for outliners who meticulously script every writing session and pantsers who pilot solely by feel. It will help you get past the fear that can land a first draft in the trashcan, and the confusion that can send a second draft into a dizzying tailspin. Because you don't want to be writing the same book for the rest of your life.

You can Finish Your Book in Three Drafts provided you approach each draft in the right spirit, and know what action steps to take between drafts. With clarity, honesty, humor, and even videos, Horwitz discusses the best outlook and direction for each of the three drafts so that you can increase your efficiency, satisfaction, and engagement with both your writing process and your final product.

140 pages, Paperback

Published June 13, 2016

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Stuart Horwitz

9 books11 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Álvaro Arbonés.
254 reviews78 followers
March 2, 2017
Cuando un libro tiene una función meramente utilitarista no cabe nada más que pedirle hacer bien su trabajo. Y Finish Your Book in Three Drafts lo hace. Sin medias tintas, sin intentar vendernos (mucho) ni el método ni otros libros del autor, da exactamente lo que propone: un modo de acabar tu libro en sólo tres borradores. Nada más. Ni circunvalaciones ni tonterías. Sólo puro método explicado de la forma más eficiente, y también de la más ineficiente en forma de estúpidos vídeos de Youtube y fotos de muñecos tróspidos.

Pero eso te lo puedes saltar. Al ser vídeos e imágenes, ya sabes que te lo debes saltar.

No es un método perfecto. De hecho, algunos de sus consejos pueden resultar problemáticos. Pero, en general, es un libro indecentemente interesante para escritores. A fin de cuentas, si algo lastra a la mayoría de escritores, además de la falta de técnica o el poco respeto a las leyes de la narrativa, es creer que por corregir más están corrigiendo mejor, cuando para corregir mejor hay que corregir menos.
Profile Image for Elisabeth Kauffman.
35 reviews30 followers
June 2, 2016
I'm not gonna lie, when Stuart Horwitz approached me with a request to participate in the editing of his newest book, I may have squealed with unadulterated glee like the little fan-girl I am. I have been through this book a few times now and each time I find a new nugget of wisdom that I want to diligently squirrel away to reference during future projects. I already reference Book Architecture all the time in my work as a freelance editor. Now I'll be adding Finish Your Book in Three Drafts: How to Write a Book, Revise a Book, and Complete a Book While You Still Love It to my "essentials" shelf.

Stuart's break down of the process of building your manuscript is empowering; it's freeing. You're not bound to creating an outline or to following a linear path when you're writing anymore. The tools he shares in this book (series grid, theme target, punch list) can help you make sense of the writing you have already done and be intentional about where and how you build and layer the significant moments as you continue to craft your manuscript.

And, bonus, Stuart's book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts, shows you how to know when you're done, how to give yourself permission to put down the pen on a project.

The storytelling element of this particular volume makes it different from other books I've read on writing, outlining, and crafting your manuscript. Stuart's pith and wit made the subject matter all the more enjoyable.

I highly recommend this book (and his other titles) to anyone who wants to develop their writing process, who wants to look at their craft differently, and who wants to finish their manuscript while they still love it.
Profile Image for Jane Gerhard.
Author 2 books1 follower
August 2, 2017
Horwitz is a wonderful guide on the journey to the final draft. This manual is gives writers an action plan that is broken into manageable steps and which moves the process forward. It works if you work it. Truly. Plus Horwitz is funny and there is humor and irony and a bit of wisdom on every page. Seriously. This works.
Profile Image for A.M..
Author 7 books47 followers
August 12, 2021
I looked at this and thought it was pretty expensive for less than 150 pages, but what I discovered is that he has made a number of video lectures interspersed with short stop motion animation films, starring the figures on the cover. These explain the book in a way that is different, intriguing, and much much easier to remember and therefore apply. [hopefully, she says, locked in first draft existential despair]

Plus free PDFs!

And he speaks my writing language.

#3. Don’t Try to Organize Anything This tip drives outliners crazy. Sometimes clients come to me with these complex notes before they’ve ever written a word, and I have to tell them that’s kinda not the way it works. It could work that way if you were writing a reportorial nonfiction account, and your notes comprise the outline of true events.
This tip, by the way, is particularly hard for perfectionists to employ. If I am coaching a perfectionist, I will usually try to humor them. “Yes, indeed! I agree with you, by all means, let’s write a perfect first draft. Now, how do we do that?…”

Be messy first THEN tidy it up.

The links to all of the extra things are inside the ebook.

4 stars
Profile Image for Stan Skrabut.
Author 5 books22 followers
December 9, 2019
Earlier I had picked up Stuart Horowitz’s book, Book Architecture . I found it quite informative. I found his discussion about the series in books to be just what I needed to push my book forward. I was at a standstill. Knowing that he had other books on the topic, I picked them up. This one is called Finish Your Book in Three Drafts: How to Write a Book, Revise a Book, and Complete a Book While You Still Love It . While it was not my favorite of the three books, I still found it informative. With what I have learned across the three books, I am confident I will be able to put together an informative and enjoyable book. Read more
Profile Image for Gwenyth Robicheaux.
105 reviews2 followers
October 4, 2019
This was just what I needed (along with Book Architecture, by the same author) to get me unstuck and give me the tools to keep moving forward with my writing. I've always tried to do the rough draft, the method draft, and the polished draft simultaneously and have always ended up hopelessly blocked. I had no idea how to outline effectively and I was definitely doing it the hard way.

I am so happy to have found this book just when I decided to get serious about writing. I will warn you that Stuart Horwitz doesn't spend a whole lot of time on how to write the polished draft, but there are other sources for that, and his methods can get you at least that far. (I'm currently using one of the Great Courses on building great sentences, and it has been helpful with filling in this gap for me.)
Profile Image for Bridgina Molloy.
Author 1 book14 followers
October 3, 2021
More of an academic book

I found that this novel was rather complicated, long winded and better suited to an academic setting. For a regular writer with no academic experience, it can come across as long winded and tedious. I am sure the author has quite the following, well done to them, but I got two thirds through before giving up. I might come back to it later. But for now...nope.
Profile Image for Candace Simar.
Author 13 books37 followers
July 17, 2021
My brain doesn't work this way. I never could do geometry either.
Profile Image for Eric Beaty.
Author 5 books4 followers
June 1, 2016
Stuart Horwitz has done it again! "Finish Your Book in Three Drafts" is a worthy sibling to its predecessors "Blueprint Your Bestseller" and "Book Architecture." In this book you'll find plenty of great ideas and insights to get you started on your book (the "messy" draft), refine what you're trying to say through your book (the "method" draft), and clarify your message (the "polished" draft).

I've now read all three of Mr. Horwitz's books (he was kind enough to send me an advanced reader's copy) and I've loved each one. Each book stands out for their own unique reasons, but FYBITD stands as a kind of sampler of his previous two books. My all-time favorite of Horwitz's books is still BYB, maybe because it's the first book I ever read of his, maybe because I was in search of a way to make some sense out of a previously abandoned novel and BYB is one of the only books that served to give me some common sense, practical methods to do so.

If you haven't read any of Horwitz's writing books, my recommended reading order is as follows:

1. BYB: This is Horwitz's first book and I feel it will best give you an overview of his editing/revising method which he calls the "Book Architecture Method." (Mainly for those who have already written a book and are looking to for answers as how to organize and revise it.)

2. FYBITD: Horwitz's newest book stands great on its own as an introduction to the series, but it will make even more sense once you've had the overview of the strategies he uses from reading BYB first. (Covers Writing, Revising, and Completing your work for publication.)

3. BA: This is, in my opinion, Horwitz's most advanced work. There are lots of great charts and images to help you understand the method he first introduces in BYB, but he goes even further in-depth with a few additional tools, which he also mentions in FYBITD. (Mainly for those who need help beginning a book without worrying about having everything to start—plot, outline, etc.)

All in all, I like FYBITD because it's more of an "interactive" experience than his previous two books. FYBITD has several expository PDF samples to expound even further on some of the aspects that the book teaches. Also, there are several quirky stop-motion videos referenced to help further ingrain Horwitz's principles into your understanding. (He even includes the storyboards of the key scenes of the videos just in case you would rather keep reading and not stop to watch them, but trust me you'll definitely want to watch them if nothing else than for a nice change of scenery while you're learning all the great material FYBITD has to offer.)

In closing, I definitely recommend Horwitz's new book, "Finish Your Book in Three Drafts," especially since he strives to help you coax your book into the best book it can be, all the while still loving the process—and not having to spend your whole life working on one book. He knows what he's talking about. Just look at his credentials: A professional editor for fifteen years, working with clients who became authors who have signed on with top literary agencies, landed book deals at coveted publishing houses, pursued successful paths to independent publishing, appear on major prime time talk shows, and even gone on to be New York Times Bestsellers (taken from the "About the Author" page in the book.

One last thing: Horwitz's ideas on getting quality beta readers is worth the price of this book alone, and yet there's so much more to look forward to in this book!

With all that said, check this book out; you won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Shannon Lawrence.
Author 42 books26 followers
July 31, 2016
This book is broken down into only seven easy-to-follow chapters. It splits the act of writing and revising into three drafts: the messy draft, the method draft, and the polished draft. It includes access to nine videos on the Book Architecture website, plus nine PDFs that go deeper into certain aspects of the book, allowing you to explore them further, if you so choose, without muddying up the premise of the physical book.

The messy draft of the book is the creative act. He recommends getting those words on paper, even giving tips on how to generate material and how to KEEP generating material. He makes it easy by clearly conveying what you are trying to accomplish with this first draft. Hint: it's not perfection.

As he says on page 30, "You can't mess up the messy draft." Yet how many of us get stuck on the first draft if something isn't right? Stuart gives us the reassurance we need to go forth and spew out wordage.

The second/method draft is about making sense of what you've written in the first draft. In short, pantsers will love the messy draft, while plotters will love the method draft. This second draft is broken down into several steps, with the focus on discovering your scene, series, and theme. (Note: "series" does not refer to a book series, but to repetition of points in your story.)

The polished draft is the one we make pretty. It's our final draft that we would be willing to send out to agents and editors. While he covers how to polish it, he also gives you permission to call it done without trying to find every minute detail that might need fixing.

He intentionally makes the process simple, while indicating ways to go deeper. There are several references to processes other writers have used, such as JK Rowling. He also covers killing your darlings, with pointers on removing unnecessary material you have a hard time parting with.

This book can stand alone, but the entire series is a worthwhile read.

*Note: I was given a review copy to provide a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for J. Rose.
Author 2 books19 followers
June 20, 2016
Stuart Horwitz has broken down the process of editing into three basic phases. The best part of this book is its simplicity – easy to understand and put all the lessons you’ve learned into this method. As many of us have, I’ve studied countless writing books over the years, and no one presents the material like Stuart. He shares a fresh approach, which is quite freeing (I also love the first in this series: “Blueprint Your Bestseller,” which helped me understand how to revise my manuscript like no other book had).

There are so many ways to go about editing a manuscript, and Stuart breaks it down into an easily digestible form. The method can be used immediately – at any point in your writing process: from the preparation stage, to revising the first draft, and to whatever current draft you’re editing.

A few of my favorite parts:
- Gives easy-to-understand method to help mentally organize writing and editing your book
- It’s funny!
- Bonus: There are supplemental materials to read (and watch). This is great – so you get the main theory from the book in an efficient manner – then can go read more after you have the framing in your mind.

Highly recommend this book. I wish I had read it several years ago…

[I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review]
Profile Image for W. Whalin.
Author 42 books383 followers
August 9, 2016
Break the Patterns of your Writing Life

Many writers are stuck in a pattern of continual revision. Their work is always under revision and never “good enough” to get into the marketplace. As a long-term member of the publishing community, editor Stuart Horwitz has seen this challenge and written a creative and easy to use book.

Practical information is combined with stunning visuals to guide every writer through the path of producing an excellent manuscript. The three drafts are: Messy, Method and Polished. Each section is packed with insights. Whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, these techniques will help you. Before you fire your masterpiece out to an editor or literary agent, Horwitz recommends you use beta readers to polish your draft. What questions do you ask these readers and how to you process their feedback? The details are in these pages.

More than a book with entertaining visual artwork, Horwitz has developed nine videos and nine PDFs in a password protected area to enhance the reading experience. These videos and PDFs reinforce the teaching in this unique book. I highly recommend FINISH YOUR BOOK IN THREE DRAFTS.
Profile Image for Kristen.
237 reviews2 followers
June 12, 2016
I’m a big fan of Stuart Horwitz’s Book Architecture method, so I was pretty happy to receive a review copy of his latest book, Finish Your Book in Three Drafts. In this third book of the trilogy, Horwitz explains the rules for finishing a book through the process of writing what he calls the “messy” draft, the “method” draft and the “polished” draft. But first, he offers some sound advice: Know what draft you’re in. This might seem obvious, but for those of us who tend to pile revisions on top of revisions in this computer age, breaking the process down to three separate drafts is very freeing. By the end of Finish Your Book in Three Drafts, you’ll have a solid understanding of how to maneuver through the process from getting the initial words out to the final product. Most importantly, in my opinion, is the advice Horwitz gives in his conclusion: “The point is not to go through life writing the same book the whole time.” This is what we all want to be: writers who have completed a book.
Profile Image for Sharon Coleman.
Author 3 books7 followers
August 22, 2016
Another excellent book on writing

This is the second of Stuart Horowitz' books I've read.his first, "Blueprint your Bestseller " was an invaluable part of my own process in writing my first book, "Only What You Need, a memoir"
This is a continuation of his methodology, and I almost didn't write this review in lieu of getting right down to his other book which is waiting on my device.
The multimedia additions were fun. As an animator, I know the amount of work that went into those, so definitely watch them. I did find the .pdf additions annoying and would rather have had the info within the text. Hopping back and forth between apps really broke the reading flow for me. This was the reason for the three star review.
His books are the best I've come across for those writers who lean toward a panting method. His books are a must have in your writing toolkit.
Profile Image for Lynn Wiese Sneyd.
Author 7 books11 followers
June 27, 2016
Okay, all you writers. This is a must-have for your writing library. I've written books and all of them have taken more than 3 drafts to complete. After reading Stuart Horwitz's book, however, I can see where I fumbled. I currently am ghostwriting a memoir and based on the suggestions in this fabulous book, I know that I can finish the manuscript in three drafts. As I writer, I find that incredibly exciting. Even if you're in the middle of writing a book or on your fifth, seventh or twentieth draft, you can still glean insights into how to finish sooner and with an even better manuscript than if you took longer to write it. I highly recommend taking the time to read what Stuart, who has ghosted and developed many books, has to say. His suggestions and methods are indispensable!
Profile Image for Amanda.
Author 8 books8 followers
June 8, 2016
Writers, I'm as sure as I've ever been that while we CAN finish a novel in three drafts, what matters is the quality of the final product, however many drafts that might take. At the same time, it's so easy for us to get stuck, to not finish our books. If that's what's going on in your writing life (or in that project that's stalled on your desk), "Finish Your Book" offers real help. What I appreciate about Stuart Horwitz's approach is that he is never formulaic. He offers a coherent, specific method, a way of proceeding step-by-step out of paralysis and into completion. That's so helpful when we're drowning in drafts, research, ideas, self-doubt, etc. As you work on that critical balance between freeform drafting and structured craft, you may find this book particularly helpful.
Profile Image for Rachel Teferet.
239 reviews1 follower
September 20, 2016
This book was fantastic; I read it through once, then went back to circle, star, and underline all the important bits. Wonderful advice here on how to write your book in 3 drafts. Not only was it funny, but it comes with supplemental material, including outrageous stop-action movies and PDF's for those who want to delve further into the topic at hand. I will be reading the other two books in this series for sure!
Profile Image for Julie Duffy.
Author 10 books31 followers
June 18, 2017
Fabulous! Totally "unstuck" my writing. Fun, funny and based in the author's huge experience as a long-time developmental editor. Can't recommend this enough for anyone struggling to get through anything after the first "honeymoon phase" of trying to write a novel.
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