First is the worst, second is the… best?
As many of you know, I am currently working on the second draft of a Detective Florence novel. I hand-edited the first draft and now I’m re-typing it as the second draft.
What is a second draft?
Well, the second draft can mean many things to different people. It could be…
- The first official edit of the first draft
- The first official re-write of the first draft
- The first realization that your novel is not in fact the next “greatest American” one
Second drafts exist (more or less) so that editors, agents, and publishers do not go insane. If writers were able to send out their first drafts then everyone in the world would be a published author. Also, the world would be filled with many terrible books.
Editing Second Drafts
Some people see their second drafts as editing opportunities. By editing, I mean looking through the first draft with a magnifying glass searching for misplaced commas, spelling errors, and the occasional silly typo.
Not all people do this, but I have seen some work through their second drafts like this. I don’t completely agree with that because there are so many aspects about the novel that are going to change in later drafts. In other words, there will also be spelling and grammatical errors to search for. Why not look for them all at once on your final draft whether it’s the seventh draft or the 20th?
I mean, let’s be honest: you can find all the technical errors you want and polish the draft to make it absolutely perfect. However, when you read that fifth chapter you’ll most likely say to yourself, “Oops… plot hole!” or “Why does this character have blue eyes when he had brown eyes back in the first chapter?”
Rewriting Second Drafts
In my opinion, rewriting second drafts get you farther than just simple editing. Rewriting means you look more in depth at the plot of the story:
–What questions need to be answered by the end of the novel?
–Do all the plot points connect well with one another?
–Overall, does the plot make sense? Is it realistic (as realistic as fiction goes)?
It means you look closer at the characters you’ve created:
–Does each personality stand out from the rest?
–Will my readers be able to picture each character uniquely?
–Does each character develop throughout the course of the novel?
Rewriting also means you look into the world you’ve created whether it’s made up…
–Will my readers feel as though they’ve visited such a unique, fictional world?
–Will they have the urge to visit this land?
–Is the world well thought-out and planned?
…Or whether it’s a true place:
–Have I done my research on this state/country?
–Will readers be impressed with my interpretation if they live/have visited this real life place?
A second draft should be your first attempt at perfecting the story as a whole. It should–to be blunt–drive you crazy.
The Honeymoon Phase is Over
So, you’ve completed your first draft of your novel… yay! Go you! You’re one step closer to being a published author. That is, until you realize what exactly you’ve written.
As you write the first draft, you think to yourself, “This is fantastic! It’s my best work yet! Publishers are going to be all over this manuscript!”
It’s great to be positive and to string yourself along and all, but once you start working on that second draft that bubble pops. You feel incompetent, you feel as though you’ll never make it as a writer, you may even feel a bit depressed. You’ll say to yourself, “How in the world did I believe this novel was the absolute best?”
It’s normal to feel that way. In fact, it’s good to feel that way. By getting yourself out of the honeymoon phase, you become a real writer. You realize where you need to go from there. You realize what you have to do in order to make that “great first draft” become a better final draft.
The second draft of a novel is, in my opinion, the most crucial part of writing. Sure, writing a first draft is essential to getting started, but the second draft is truly where the work begins. Once you make it through the second draft, the rest of the drafts–whether there’s five or 50–seem easier than the one before it.
Once you make it through the second draft, your novel is finally on its way.
So, I made a schedule for myself for my Detective Florence series up until the end of May of next year. My first deadline was yesterday and guess what? I missed it.
School has officially ended so I don’t have that commitment anymore (yay!) and work is winding down with the holidays approaching. I have the rest of this week and Monday and Tuesday of next week and then it’s winter break. However, they’re still full days so it’s still six hours I’m missing from each day.
Speaking of the holidays, Christmas is right around the corner. I finished all my shopping and wrapping, but there’s still so much to do; clean the house, help with baking, prepare for upcoming Christmas parties, etc.
This past weekend alone I was barely home. I had work Friday morning and then a Christmas party that night. Kris and I went out Saturday morning to Barnes & Noble (so I got a little writing done then) and then we went shopping. Then we had company over the house that night. Sunday we had church in the morning and then went to my uncle’s house to celebrate his birthday. It was a busy weekend that flew by and before I knew it I had to wake up early for work again.
Yesterday I was supposed to have the second draft of Detective Florence typed up and ready to be printed for another hand-edit. I haven’t been writing the ten pages a day like I was supposed to. I have 30 pages left to go.
I plan on finishing it today. However, I won’t be able to start hand-editing the first draft of Detective Florence 2 today. So that will put me a day behind, but I’m hoping I can catch up with that tomorrow after work since I don’t have anything else going on.
In other news, I’ve been continually planning and preparing things for my blog for the new year. I’ve been writing certain posts that will be weekly or monthly. There are a few posts that will be written in advance, but most posts will be written as my day got on and I start rambling to you guys as usual. However, I need the planned posts in order to keep up a good pace with my blog and also because I have no idea what next year is going to bring. Between school, work, babysitting, and everything else under the sun, writing the posts in advance is a good choice at the moment.
So, after work I need to type up those last 30 pages of Detective Florence. Then tomorrow I’ll start on my next deadline. More on that tomorrow as well as an update of the second draft of Detective Florence and how well/not well it’s been going.
I typed up about 12 pages of the second draft of Detective Florence today. That puts me in a small lead since I’m supposed to do ten pages a day. I keeping thinking it would be nice to do extra pages and I probably will every once in a while, but… today is not that day.
I ended up doing two extra pages because three of the pages had the note written on them: “Simplify or take it out!”
Would you like to know what the three pages were about? Well, it was George laying out all his notes about the current case he’s working on. In other words, he summarized the entire novel from start up until that point. Um… why do we need a summary when we just read it all? There is no good answer to that question.
I wrote the first draft for NaNoWriMo 2013 so it’s obvious that I was stuck and just needed the extra words. That certainly worked at the time, but now I need to think about quality over quantity.
I ended up “simplifying” instead of taking it out completely. My mind may change in later drafts, but as of right now I think it’s a good move.
George was writing notes in am attempt to organize the events of the current cases (yes, there’s two mysteries going on). He added in a lot of extra stuff that no one needs to be reminded of, not even him. So I reworded it all so that he made a list of questions. You know, the standard who, what, where, when, why, how. He answered the ones he could and left questions blank that he didn’t know.
This definitely helped me keep everything in check. It was kind of like writing a list of plot questions that I need to remember to answer by the end of the book. I’m sure it will help keep the reader focused and organized as well. Plus, I’m sure real detectives sit at their desks and organize their thoughts like that all the time. Mysteries are a big headache.
Rewriting that bit took me from three pages to about four paragraphs which is just shy of a full page. So… yeah, I was clearly trying to boost my word count for NaNo.
I’m on page 156 in the second draft which is about 20 pages shorter than the first draft. It doesn’t seem like I cut out much, but I’m sure there will still be more cutting left; especially in later drafts. I’m sure there will even be some scenes that get cut, then brought back, then cut again.
Like I said, I reworded that scene because I think it’s a good idea now. However, when I’m on my Nth draft I may think it was a stupid idea and end up cutting it completely.
One just never knows.
Another year of NaNoWriMo has come and gone. Did you all win? I hope so. If not, that’s okay. Writing is writing no matter how many words you managed to get down on the page.
Now that the NaNo hype is all done and everyone can finally relax again, we are now into December.
December is probably one of the busiest months of the year. It probably goes by the quickest as well because everyone is always so busy. December is also the last month of the year so people start thinking of New Year’s Resolutions and such.
I have been thinking about 2015 for the past couple of months. Call me strange, but I didn’t want to start anything “new” until the new year because then that would kind of sort of in a weird way make it “official.” Am I the only one who thinks that way?
Anyway, starting in 2015 there’s going to be a few new changes to my blog… posts and layout alike. I’ve been thinking about this for a few months now so I just need to put it all into action. Hopefully you guys will like the new changes. There will be more on that later… as in, the end of the month. All will be revealed/explained New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. Look forward to it… please.
I will say this, though: part of what I’m going to start doing regularly is working on my Detective Florence series.
I started typing up the second draft of Detective Florence back in October and stopped because NaNo started. I had only 140 pages left so now I’m going to continue that. Here’s my plans:
–Type up the last 140 pages of the second draft of Detective Florence by December 15 (10 pages a day)
–Hand edit the first draft of Detective Florence 2 (December 15-31)
–Type up the second draft of Detective Florence 2
—Outline Detective Florence 3
—Write Detective Florence 3
The first deadline will definitely hold up. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hand edit in 16 days with the holidays and work, but I’ll certainly give it a try. I would like to start writing the third novel by February at the very latest, though. We’ll see how it goes.
Those are my plans so far. 2015 is going to be the year that the first Detective Florence novel is going to be ready for publication… hopefully. I want it to be completed edited and polished by the end of December 2015.
I typed up ten pages this afternoon, so I’m on par for the first day of my plan. Yay! Now I just need to keep this up.