The Writing Diaries: Second Draft Blues
Claws deep into my second draft, I've realised something I'd been pretending wasn't a thing is, in fact, horribly true. On draft two, you basically have to start again.
When I first began editing this, about a year ago, it was an exercise in writing down every tiny little thing that was wrong with my novel as I reread it - on top of the notes of terrible things I'd noticed while I was writing. I acquired new characters, new plots, reworked scenes, got rid of other characters, rewired motivations and decided that the last ten thousand words were, in fact, so terrible that not a single one of them even made the cut for being reworded. I may as well chuck them all in the shredder now, and pretend they never existed.
Rewriting as part of creating a second draft may be a truth universally acknowledged, but nothing quite prepares you for it until the actual experience comes and clouts you round the head.
Obviously there are many things that you should do in a second draft. I know full well what is wrong with my writing and when I don't, I can still pull apart what I don't like even if I couldn't actually tell you what I don't like about it. Sometimes it's just wrong.
But beating myself up about this draft is hardly helping, so to counter it I've made a list of awesome things that happen when working on your second draft:
1. Wow, that scene really isn't as bad as it felt when I was writing it!
2. Because you've written your first draft, you know your characters a whole lot better. So a lot of your early scenes, especially in the first few chapters, you'll rewrite with an attitude of "oh so THIS is what they were trying to say!" Or "this is so NOT how they would behave in this situation". You also have much better connections between your characters because you now know how they behave around each other; all the communication between them should become increasingly natural. I for one feel like my two main characters are (in places) talking so much more easily in this second draft, because I know them and their friendship so much better now.
3. You can curl up with your favourite people in the entire world - your characters - and get the experience the whole brilliant story all over again. Just with better words. And plots. And scenes. And continuity. And cohesion. And research.
4. Ever had a hobby or skill you wanted to learn about but never thought it existed - or never dared to do the research? Now is that time! I've found a medieval fighting skills class solely for this novel. Just like going to a joust made my rewrite of my joust scene a million times better. I've now written a brand new scene featuring a sword fight so you bet I'm about to go learn how to swing a broadsword!
5. You're writing a second draft. That means you've finished a first draft. And nobody can ever take that away from you.
Struggling with the second draft blues too? I'm an experienced creative writing mentor who can help you hone and refine your story. Get in touch to arrange a free consultation!