On second drafts

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

My novel’s been sitting as a printed out pile of paper covered in red scribbles for a few weeks. I finished the first draft back in November and set it aside, so I could read the story without too much attachment. And guess what? The first draft was awful.

After several attempts to start the second draft, I feel a bit stuck. I’ve decided to change the time period (moving it from 1970 to 2008), and the point of view (from first person to third). So, essentially this second draft will be a total rewrite of the first.

This is a really daunting experience. I really had a case of, phew, I wrote a novel, now what? which has turned into I wrote a novel, holy crap.

So, any advice for a first time novelist getting through the later drafts?

2 thoughts on “On second drafts

  1. “So, any advice for a first time novelist getting through the later drafts?”

    Yes, write down ten things you really want from the story and revise accordingly. Work out what the main character truly wants and what’s stopping them get it. Work on a group of story questions; each time you finish a chapter, make a summary of story point and keep referring to these as you continue to write. Finally, don’t be tempted to make too many changes – sometimes this makes everything far worse.

    All the best with your writing. I’m currently blogging on these subjects and various creative writing obstacle topics.


  2. A first draft is always messy. I wouldn’t worry about that. The real danger would be if you thought your first draft was perfect!

    Changing the decade in which a story is set might just be a matter of altering a few details here and there. It depends on how crucial the setting is to your story. Changing the point of view is more work. I actually did the same thing with a novel several years ago. The first draft was in first person, and I thought it would work better in third person (and it did). Changing “I”s to “he”s or “she”s isn’t that difficult, but it is a lot of tedious, time-consuming work.

    I think the most important thing to remember is that the revising process takes a long time. Last year, I spent 7 months, working almost every day, revising my latest novel. You might not need that much time, but keep in mind that revising is a slow process. It is daunting, but just take it one step, one piece, at a time. Don’t try to take on the entire novel, just take on a chapter and focus on that for a couple days. Then when you’re done move on to the next chapter, and so on.


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