Second drafts are wonderful to work on because there is so much that is wrong with them and therefore, they are infinitely improvable! At least, that’s the case for me.
I’m editing the second draft of my young adult verse novel. It’s still very loose at this stage, so I’m focusing on the big picture rather than the smaller details. I’m thinking about:
- would my characters really do this?
- is the pace too fast or too slow?
- is there tension in every scene?
- what is the balance between my two protagonists?
- how are my characters working to achieve their goals?
- is the antagonist believable, with a strong enough motivation to stop the protagonists from reaching their goals?
- and always, always, always going to back to the theme of my book – how do my characters belong in their worlds, yet still express themselves to honour their authenticity?
I’m using Alan Watt’s The 90 day rewrite as my guide. He outlines the main plot points, with lots of key ideas to discover what your story is really about in this draft.
My second draft is full of predictable mistakes. I’ve changed a couple of the characters’ names. I’ve wandered down a rabbit hole, and need to delete that hole entirely. I’ve moved scenes around because they were in the wrong order. I’ve merged two characters together.
I love working on a second draft because it’s so satisfying to fix. The mistakes are so glaring and the solutions so obvious, that the manuscript improves every time I breathe on it.
I’m trying to finish this draft in an impossibly short self-imposed deadline of a month, so I can send it to a friend who is equal parts critic and cheer squad. This means she will rip it to shreds but will tell me I can fix it.
So the third draft will be equally satisfying because I’ll have her notes to help me.
It’s the fourth draft, when I need to focus on developing the emotions of the characters, the nuances of the plot and the subtleties of language, that it becomes hard. It’s not quite singing yet, but it’s not so obvious as to how to elevate my writing so that it does sing.
But that’s at least three months away… nothing to worry about now!