Single, Multi, Sandwich, Confetti. Each of these terms is used to describe a style of drafting, and I wanted to talk a little about them. Side note: if you haven’t heard of the last two, it’s because I coined them. In my time as the research director and managing editor for an international team of professional writers, I quickly learned that nothing guarantees people stick to the 2 most common drafting forms.
I want to start by discussing two of these styles this week (single and sandwich) with the other two (multi and confetti) coming next week!
I will be upfront and announce that I am a single drafter. I do most of the legwork in writing before I put finger to key (or pen to paper (or will to thought interface)), and the rest is handled as I type each word. Initial revisions get made as I’m still drafting, and I’ll often iterate on an idea for a bit before I’m satisfied and move on. Once that draft is complete, I consider it ready for thorough editorial and revision.
Stop, please, and reread that last sentence. In my experience, people too often write off (Puns! Woo!) single drafters as folk who do not edit. I blame sub par single drafters for tainting an otherwise venerable practice. There are single drafters, and I recall many from my days as a master tutor of reading and writing, who believe that once they’ve completed that draft, they are done. Excerpt of real conversations I’ve had:
Student: “Christopher, here’s the paper I wrote for English 305.”
Christopher: “Great, let’s read through it and discuss revisions.”
Frustrating Student: “No, it’s done.”
Frustrated Christopher: “What? You went through and revised it with someone else?”
Irritating Student: “No. I’m a single drafter. I don’t need to edit.”
Irritated Christopher: “That is not how that works.”
Baffling Student: “Sure it is. I only write one draft. It doesn’t need edits.”
Baffled Christopher: “THEN WHY DID YOU BRING IT TO A WRITING TUTOR?!”
Student Comically Missing the Point: “Teacher told me to.”
That was a dramatic reenactment of far too many real life conversations I’ve had. To all you single drafters out there, your single draft is exactly that. A draft. It is not a final product or deliverable. It is not a polished manuscript. Once you’re satisfied with a draft, it’s time to edit and revise yourself, followed by editing and review by others with experience. Writing is an art of refinement and calling yourself a “single drafter” doesn’t get you out of that.
TL;DR – Single drafting involves refinement of vision and concepts pre-drafting, but IS NOT an excuse for skipping editing and revisions. Essentially, single drafters do a lot of the logistical prep for writing before they ever sit down to write.
So now we get into one of the weird ones that I coined because I needed terminology to make sense of them. Sandwich drafting refers to the practice of drafting the content first, and only writing the introduction and conclusion once the content is complete. Essentially, these folks put together the meat, cheese, veggies, condiments, and then slap a piece of bread on either side.
Sandwich drafting is odd to me. I see no issues with it if it’s done well, but I feel like drafting the intro and conclusion last can lead to some oddities in the flow of a chapter, paper, etc. I can also see it running into the potential issue of procrastination (which I’ll talk about in a little more detail next week with multi drafting). If you don’t write the beginning or end until you’ve finished the middle, and you’re the kind of person who’s prone to insecurity, you may find yourself endlessly rewriting the body without addressing the head or feet. At some point–unless you’re writing only for yourself–your words have to get out in front of readers. Anxiety can make that transition difficult, and I can see how this writing style could facilitate such nervous procrastination.
TL;DR – Sandwich drafters finish the middle before writing the beginning and end. It can work, but it can also lead to odd disconnects in flow or endlessly cycling through content without completing the rest.
Those are the two forms I wanted to talk about this week. Come back next week to read about multi drafting and the odd practice I’ve dubbed confetti drafting! The most important thing to remember: THE ONLY TRULY WRONG WAY TO DRAFT IS TO NOT DRAFT AT ALL. As long as you approach your style openly and remain honest in your efforts to refine yourself and your skills, most anything can work.
If you use one of these (or any other style), tell me what you think on Twitter or in the comments below!