Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Work Begins

The other day, I finished the first draft of my new novel...which means, the real work is about to start. It wasn't always the case that the second draft was the real challenge. Of course, that's because in my youth, like most youths, I didn't believe in second drafts. Here it is, in all its glory was my attitude. Naturally, my ego blinded the super-ego filter into not seeinbg that very little glory was on the page as far as construction and extended metaphor were concerned. In those days, just getting the story out from beginning to end felt like an achievement.

Once I started publishing, and working with editors, I began to fully comprehend the possibilities a second and third draft contained. Refinement. That's the true treasure of the second draft.

Inevitably, an observant writer will notice flaws in their work somewhere around two-thirds into the first draft. No matter how tightly you outline, there's going to be repetition and rambling. (We're writers after all, we ramble by nature.) There's also going to be scenes you dreamt up that didn't come out right, or places where the story drifts and the language gets clumsy. While it's critical to make course adjustments along the way and repair obvious disasters, it's also important not to get too bogged down in tiny issues. Plow ahead, but make notes along the way of things that are bothering you.

One of the most important, and overlooked, steps in writing a novel is to have a plan of action before going into the second draft. Take some time to think about what it is you want to accomplish with it. I find if you just dive in and start editing, there's a chance of making a mess of things. Have some ideas going into it. patient. The second draft requires a lot of mental energy. Whereas first drafts can be fun and excited...the second is just work, but somehow, that makes it all the more rewarding.

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