Just something funny I whipped up because I have no other ideas.
Draft 1: First draft, roughest of the rough. No one’s seeing this puppy except a spouse and maybe your mother. Upon reading it, you will discover you have a strange affinity for certain words (just and that are the worst offenders, but you’ll probably have a few that are uniquely you) as well as several plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. Pretty impressive considering the size of paper is only 8-by-11 inches.
Draft 2: Second draft, the one you will tell people is your first draft because the actual first one will never see the light of day again. You might ship this out to a few kind-hearted betas, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. Chapters that go nowhere will be cut. Characters that don’t add anything are carefully excised. You also start caring about continuity and researching all the scientific/medical/technical aspects you’ve thrown in there.
Draft 3: Third draft, and probably the first one you will consider “done” even though it probably isn’t. You’ll round up some beta readers and critique partners who you assume will be in awe of your talent, only to be devastated when they point out more plot holes, weak characters and unbelievable dialogue. After you stop sobbing and threatening to kill them, you’ll realize they’re right.
Draft 4-?: Continuing approaches to the fabled “Final Draft”. Each incarnation is better than the last, although now you’re in danger of over-editing and procrastinating rather than sending it out to agents/editors/publishers. Once you realize you’re only changing minor word usage, your betas are all giving you the thumbs up, and your spouse is telling you to just ship it out or I swear to God, you’re sleeping on the couch, you decide for good or ill, the next draft will be the last.
“Final” Draft: The draft you deem ready to be seen by others. How adorable that you think it’s the actual final draft. Those quotes are there for a reason. No matter who you send it to, there will be more rewrites in your future. Each time you’ll think it will be the last, and each time those quotes just stay up there.
Final Draft: Mythical condition that might not actually exist, much like unicorns, jackalopes, and a version of Windows that works above or near your expectations. This version of the book will be seen by hundreds, thousands, or (if it’s good enough) millions of people. No pressure.