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The Last Draft: A Novelist's Guide to Revision

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  140 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The definitive handbook for the novelist who is ready to revise

This wise and friendly guide shows writers how to turn first-draft manuscripts into the novels of their dreams. A critic, longtime teacher, and award-winning novelist, Sandra Scofield illustrates how to reread a work of fiction with a view of its subject and vision, and how to take it apart and put it back t
Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 5th 2017 by Penguin Books
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Geetanjali Mukherjee
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
* I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

This is the kind of book you don't just read from beginning to end. Last Draft is a personalized novel-revising workshop - you are meant to do exercises as you go through the book. The book gives you exercises to help you develop your skills by deconstructing and learning from successful novels. It also helps you create a structure and a plan to revise your own novel, by first diagnosing its major issues and t
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I picked this up when entering revisions for the final draft of my current book, because it's called The Last Draft, thinking it would be about...the last draft! It was not! It was about revisions from the beginning, and it was very much for pantsers. I'm a plotter so most of the advice given in this book is stuff I did/would do in the outlining phase before I get to the first draft. So there was very little in here that was helpful. I was looking for a book that was about really specific revisi ...more
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
damn. this book forreal is a step-by-step guide on how to rewrite a novel. this is for serious writers.

super informative. a lot of easy explanations, examples, and formulas. I applied these steps to revising my short stories n I had to tweak some steps, but this is so versatile.

this is for every writer: pantser or planner. you always think you know what your story is until you put it on paper and it becomes its own thing.

One of my favorite craft books. Every young writer needs to use this book
Wendy MacKnight
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-read
Boy did I need this. Do yourself a favour - do every exercise. I did and wished I'd done it before draft three. A must for every writer! ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Oct 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Most written work needs to be revised or re-written before the finished copy is produced. The author addresses when and how to make revisions while giving tips and advice. If you write, you should give this book a read.
Len Joy
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Award-winning novelist, Sandra Scofield (her novel, Beyond Deserving was a finalist for the National Book Award) has been working with aspiring novelists for over two decades.

As an aspiring writer myself, I know that completing a first draft, while not easy, is not all that difficult if you have some discipline. But the really daunting challenge is what to do next. How do we make this rough manuscript into a real novel, something we can be proud of? Something that others might want to read?

Beatrice Morgan
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is great it you write literary. Scofield talks in this "head in the clouds" kind of way that some writing instructors do - I prefer my writing advice down to earth and a bit solid, not vague and general like "your setting is important."

I've read a lot of books about writing, and this one just felt too vague and aimed at the literary side of writing. And by that I mean it was overly concerned with commenting on society and the human condition and whatever else.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-on-writing
The Last Draft by Sandra Scofield is the best book I’ve read on revision. As I read through it on vacation, I saw the story I’m writing in new ways. I highly recommend this to any working fiction writers. Scofield is really big on the physicality of the writing process: printing out drafts and marking them up, three-by-five cards with breakdowns of scenes and chapters, marking up scenes with different colored inks. Scofield’s other big emphasis is on writing “statements” throughout to define the ...more
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was brilliant for where I am right now in writing. It breaks down the editing process into manageable steps and the exercises I've done so far have been amazing for cleaning up my muddled draft. Scofield's approach was easy to follow and I found her advice applicable to all genres.

If I had to comment on one thing it would be that towards the end the exercises grew a little repetitive and occasionally there were more examples than necessary. However, it didn't detract from it's usefuln
Christina Gagliano
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
She's a bit more militant and into index cards and color coding things than I am; however, she has so much advice and so many writing and editing exercises in this book that you'll find plenty of advice that resonates with your writing and your style of revising. One of my writing group buddies had Sandra Scofield as a professor so hearing her take on what Sandra was getting at was helpful and, obviously, not a resource everyone will have when reading this book! ...more
Celia Reaves
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m in the midst of my revisions now, so this is useful if not entirely right for me. Some of the exercises seemed pointless or confusing. Others, though, did lead me to an interesting insight that is affecting some of my scenes. Revision is an intensely individual process, so no doubt different writers will take away a different impression of the book’s usefulness.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This Last Draft is a practical guide to revising your novel manuscript. Scofield takes you step by step through her in depth process of analyzing a draft. From motifs and themes to scene sequences, Scofield offers advice about big and small picture concerns. This is exactly the book I needed right now as I prepare to revise the first draft of my novel
Kris Dersch
There's a lot of really interesting in depth material here...I just don't know if I and my current project are in the right place for it. The first half with the breaking apart of narrative elements kinda lost me and getting into the sections on the revision process was better...I think I'll come back to those sections of this book at another time. ...more
Marian Rakestraw
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sandra Scofield knows what she’s doing, and she’s mostly successful in sharing her expertise. Sometimes I felt that this guide would be more useful to writers who craft more literary stories than I do. But I never felt that the author was dismissive of genre fiction. There is plenty to think about here, and I’ll be going back to do many of the exercises.
Lois Campbell
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sandra Scofield is the teacher that can help you shift your writing from ordinary to excellent. A great teacher guides you to discover your own potential. This is what Sandra Scofield does in her book The Last Draft, while at the same time adding practical advice. Having the resource of this book is like having your own personal professor with you whenever you need her.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book that's helped me gather around 60 or so pages of notes for the revision of my novel; I just started my rewrite and feel much more confident going in after analyzing my previous draft using Scofield's exercises and methods. Highly recommended. ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I grasped so much from reading this book to the point where I bought my own copy (initially read a borrowed copy). An absolute must-have for writers, especially those working on their very first novel.
Rachel Meyer
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
It certainly took me long enough to read this, but in the end I got through it. It really did have some good editing advice, even if it could be a bit overwhelming and repetitive at times. One I wouldn't mind adding to my collection. ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While desperately searching the Overdrive catalog for books on revision, I came across this thoughtful guide. Right now, it's making me question whether I should completely rewrite my novel again or not! ...more
H. L
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
For the most part this book was awesome. I learned a bit and will be using some of these tips. My only issue is that at times it was long winded or dry. Ultimately I would recommend to a friend, just make sure to have some coffee handy.
Dec 05, 2020 rated it liked it
My editor suggested I read this book to form an "about" statement and discover my "ideal reader" which would have made sense before I turned in my final draft. Completing these exercises might be helpful but time consuming with a 4 week deadline. #amediting ...more
Jenny Belardi
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one I'll go back to. I like that it asks questions rather than trying to answer them. ...more
Jennifer Sciubba
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fantastic to help move an advanced rough draft to a polished, final draft. Only problem was that the advice was repetitive. Very useful though and a must-have for the fiction writer’s shelf.
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Extremely helpful, with many exercises and advice.
Sarah Monty
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Much of the advice feels recursive (to the point of exhaustion). Still, some of her ideas seem very helpful, and I look forward to trying them out.
Todd Hogan
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Boot camp for authors ready to attack their rough drafts and polish to a stronger story. Lots of exercises to guide authors through the process. Intense.
Leda Frost
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A solid book of writing advice for a writer in any stage of revision. I firmly believe every writer has their own process, but if you're still figuring this out, these guidelines may be helpful. ...more
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book ever on revision I have found.
Mar 24, 2020 marked it as dnf
Shelves: books-i-own
I can't finish this one, because I had to leave it behind when I moved home from school unexpectedly bc COVID-19... so, yeah. woo. ...more
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the better books I've read on revision. Plenty of good advice and practical examples. I recommend reading through it and then going back to the most salient advice. ...more
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