It's been a week and a day now since I completed the first draft of my second novel, A Witch in Time. The novel started as part of the Nibfest14 write-a-thon, organised by Laetitia Rutherford of Watson, Little Ltd.
I was going to leave it longer than a week before I got stuck into some serious editing, but I'm keen to get started. I'd like to write with the characters still very much fresh and fully formed in my mind. It seems to be the best approach for me. With hindsight, now I've worked out how my writing process works for longer fiction, booking a week or two off work and working flat out would be the ideal. But in a non ideal situation with work ever looming, I am working around noisy, happy children, and activities, and working late into the night, even if it's only 100 or 200 words, it's little but often and accumulative.
It's got me thinking about the whole process of approaching a second draft. Thought I'd jot down a few pointers below...
- It's a bit of a drain on ink and paper resources, but at this stage it's usually best to print out a copy. The words have a different feel and can look very different on paper to the screen.
- I like to have a read through and make notes at this stage, on the actual manuscript, often spelling and grammatical errors, repetition, maybe even the wrong name! But also in a notebook, so that I can make more extensive notes per chapter of what I'd like to revise.
- Back to the laptop/computer! Start working through chapter by chapter making corrections, but also adding or taking away chunks of writing. Or adding more detail or maybe more dialogue, wherever sparse or in need of a plot hole filling in. In the first draft, If I get stuck or need to write further on to help the plot progress, I often leave a chapter unfinished so that I may come back to it at a later stage when I know exactly what I'd like to add or change.
- It's a good idea to set yourself a deadline when you'd like to complete a draft to keep you focused. It's very easy at this stage to start thinking about the next project which you're already excited about.
- Sometimes in the second draft I discover characters that don't really have much of a role, more a bit part. So unless they are absolutely necessary I try to cut these and give their role to another more prominent character. If a character doesn't have a big enough role or a subplot doesn't actually move the story forward then cut it.
- Once you've completed a second draft, put it aside for a couple of weeks so you can re-read again with fresh eyes. It might seen like hard work, but a third draft could well be needed. You want it to be perfect once it arrives with an agent or editor after all :)