Generally, I research for approximately a year before writing the first word. Once I’ve front-loaded enough information on the time period to have a working grasp of it, I write a quick and skeletal initial draft. In the second year of a book’s creation I revise, revise, revise, filling in the gaps in the narrative, smoothing the connective tissue, obsessively inserting and deleting words, sentences, entire paragraphs, pages, and chapters. Along the way I show drafts to colleagues, and then to an editor. After each outside reader gets back to me with a critique, I rewrite again. It is not uncommon for me to go through twenty or more drafts of a book before it enters into production. And even when the book is in galleys, I still feel compelled to make changes, to tighten, to find the perfect word to replace one that isn’t quite precise enough.
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