As our journey continues, we are now stumbling into step four. This step I like to call: Now, do it again! I’m so proud of you. You have successfully evaded real life enough to write an entire book. Go ahead and start writing query letters and searching for the perfect agent, right?
Oh, so wrong.
And you may not want to here it, so I’m going to say it a little louder for those in the back. You’ve written an entire book, NOW, DO IT AGAIN!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about rewriting your entire story, unless you do that with your drafts. Personally, I can’t do that, but what I have found is that everyone is different. Everyone has their own unique way to rewrite their story. And that is where we find ourselves.
It is going to be hard, don’t get me wrong. You just wrote an entire book, and now you must reread that and adjust it? But it is already perfect, right? That is what we all think. We will pour hours and days into our characters and story only to find that it is not up to par with what we are wanting to convey to our audience. It’s going to be tough, its going to be rough, and that is why it is named as such.
Enter rough draft.
I know that it seems finished, but one thing you must realize is that it seems that way to everyone. We want to believe it, because of the daunting task of going back through it. But I say fear not my friends, we created an #amcrying tag just for a situation just like this.
Some of you will start with a completely blank document and rewrite the entire story, which is great. Others will reread their story and simply make the necessary changes and additions, which is also great. You are going to hear me coming back to that idea time and time again. This is your book and you need to write it the way you feel best about doing so.
Not only will others attempt to tell to write your book, but they will also tell you how to edit it. I’m not saying to ignore them. No matter how good you become at writing, there is always going to be someone else out there who is much better at it than you. Writers who have seen it all. Writers who have been to the edge and back. There are going to be ones who have been through the trenches of the querying process.
These writers are going to be your lifeline during this process. They are going to be invaluable. But we are not there yet. Calm down and just breathe, we are just now writing the second draft of your story, and if you though the first was bad, get ready for the second.
When I do my second draft, I make it less daunting, by not making the first draft something I fall in love with. I don’t flesh out descriptions and backstory. I don’t spend hours on names or places. I simply write. Sometimes my chapters in the first draft are only a couple hundred words long, and at other times they are a couple thousand. I don’t worry about consistency and word count. I simply write to get the story on the paper.
Now, when I get to my second draft, I don’t really have a Michelangelo work of art that I don’t want to change. I have a sort of outline. A skeleton of a story that is easy to manipulate because I am not attached to it yet. The first draft is a child in their toddler years. They are messy and you know they won’t stay like that forever. You know it is good for them to grow and change into something greater. That makes it so much easier.
The second draft is the teenage years. They’re growing up. They are getting some substance, but they are also getting smarter and evolving to changing circumstances. In the second draft we are fleshing out those descriptions. We are teaching ourselves new things about the writing process. I usually only do three drafts, and the third is what we will talk about next week.
The important thing to take away from the second draft is that we are focusing on filling out the story and making sure it flows well. At this point I am still not worried about using the right vocabulary, but I am finalizing character names and places and solidifying the focal point of the novel. The plots and story arcs need to make sense that way you are not having to mess with that later.
The nitpicking. The beta readers and critique partners. Oh boy, those are next. If you think that you weren’t ready for your own critique of your novel, just wait until you get it from other writers.