Second Draft – 6 things you need to do
The second draft process of your manuscript is the most fun!
The hard part is truly behind you. Writing a first draft of anything, let alone a book, is the foundation of what’s to be written and in no uncertain terms does it ever become the finished article. A first draft is the essence of what you want to say or how your story is put together.
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Creating the first draft will be challenging but when you get to the end and finally close your laptop with that sense of achievement and accomplishment, the power of what you’ve done should not be taken lightly. Your first draft is an idea being truly realised and born into reality. And when you finish you should celebrate your commitment and dedication to the book, your understanding of the story, and writing what felt right at the time.
The thing about first drafts is that they aren’t perfect. And they’re not supposed to be. So when you do go back to it, or if you’ve walked away from it with a heavy heart of what’s missing or not told in the right way, don’t fret worry, or worse… burn it or delete it. Know wholeheartedly that this is the natural process of writing a book.
All those feelings of elation might indeed turn into doubt – but that’s just the writer in you. What you need to do after finishing your first draft is to leave it alone for a while and jot down any additional ideas or queries that may pop into your mind. Don’t allow them to nag away at your self-confidence as an author – just let them be and thank them for appearing. At some point everything you think up after the moment you finish your first draft and begin your second will help you in some way, when the time is right.
After a while, however long you choose to leave your first draft to ruminate (creating distance between you and your words) just know that you’ll come back to it with a clear head and know that from here on in is the start of truly bringing your book to life in all the ways you initially thought possible.
The second draft process is a great place to be in, and to help you make the most of this moment here are 6 crucial elements to add to your check list:
1. Consistent Narrative Style – first person, third person. Whatever your choice, whether one fluid narrative or chapter/character alternatives, make sure they’re consistent and don’t jar the reader with confusion for the wrong reasons. Of course, it’s quite acceptable for you to alternate narrative styles in certain narrative structures, and if you do this, you’ll need to make sure that the alternating of narratives is structured in a way that the reader will come to expect as they move through the chapters of your story. Structure is the keyword here. If your narrative is jumpy and moves around then you’ll need to tighten it up so that the reader doesn’t get thrown around. Be consistent. Be clear. And keep it as simple as possible unless the telling of your story calls for a more complex approach.
2. Repetition – look for instances where you have repeated the telling of things. These can sometimes appear as direct repeats of the story or moments that you’ve told in an additional way to get your point across so the reader understands. If it’s the latter version, make sure you don’t over do it in explaining the moment or feeling in different ways. Try selecting the one that works best or rewrite a better way now you’ve had time to consider and look at it with fresh eyes.
3. Voice – who is telling the story? Is the voice consistent? Reading over your first draft with fresh eyes will enable you to read the story like a new reader. There may be times when you find the voice telling your story to be less than mediocre. Make sure that the voice is strong and consistent. If you’re writing in first-person, you’ll be able to pin the voice to the character and hold the voice against the character’s values, desires, hopes, strengths and weaknesses. If you’re writing in third-person, you’ll be thinking of the mood of your story, the themes and the development of the story – is the voice sympathetic, romantic or clinical?
4. Plot – this is one of the best parts of a second draft. Now you can read the story from beginning to end. You’ll be able to feel the tension rising, the characters growing or weakening, and you’ll be able to tell what works, what’s rushed and what needs more development to get a character or a plot from A to B with the best effect for the reader. Your first draft was all about character and plot, and these two components moving in partnership to get each other to the end. Does it work? Once you’ve read it, you’ll be able to see exactly what else you need to add or what you need to remove. Make notes on what you like and what you dislike or what jars you as you read the first draft from beginning to end for the first time.
5. Character Development – linked to point 4, character development is an important part of any story. If in reading your first draft you feel you character has made an unrealistic move with little backstory or motivation that the reader may query – then this is the time to make an adjustment. Realism and plausibility are both key in developing characters. How your characters begin in a story is typically a starting block. Throughout the plot your character/s will collect new pieces of themselves, discard pieces of themselves all with the help of how the plot throws them about. Experiences change people, and your plot will likely help your characters to understand themselves better, to learn things about themselves, or remember aspects of themselves. How your character moves through your plot with ease and plausibility will be based on what you’ve given the reader to understand of them and the events you put them through. Remember, character development is not about turning into a completely different person. It’s about characters recognising pieces of themselves, their desires, hopes, worth, value, fears and working through them to become another version of themselves. Not a different character altogether.
6. Sensory Writing – writing a second draft is all about layering and this is much about adding stimulating imagery, language and syntax that really gets into your readers heads and keeps them glued to the end. You have the power to make your characters, settings, feelings and emotions highly relatable. As you re-write your second draft remember to add a flavour of the environment and the characters by using the senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and sound. We all have senses and these create the bridge for your readers to cross so that they’re fully emerged in your characters’ lives.
Second draft writing is much more fun than your first. It’s easier to write when you have a first draft to begin from. You’ve done the hardest part. You’ve written the bones down of your story. Now it’s time to add colour, light, love and everything in between.
Respectfully your guide,