1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Starting my 'second draft'

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lea`Brooks, Nov 5, 2015.

    I'm 72k words into my WIP. I'm starting chapter 30 of 42 tomorrow. If all goes according to plan, I'll be finished writing by next week and can start editing. So in my free time, I've been looking up editing tips to get me prepared on how to start. I've never done this before, so I'm pretty nervous about it.

    I've been scouring through the forum, looking at old editing threads and the suggestions listed. I've noticed a lot of people say to print it out and read it through first, making notes along the way. Then going back and rewriting it. So I have a few questions that I hope you all wouldn't mind answering for me.


    1. If I've been making notes of things that need to be fixed as I write them, should I still print it out and read it first, making additional notes?

    2. I also saw a lot of people focus on SPaG first, then plot and issues second. That seems a little backwards to me. I feel like the plot should be fixed first, then checked over again for SPaG errors. Is there a reason it's done the other way around, or does it matter if I do plot first?

    3. I have a lot of things I know I need to fix, mostly word choices with a chapter that needs basically completely rewritten. I wrote very generically and without creativity so that I could just get it done. But my plot in general is pretty solid, with no major revisions needed, because I followed an outline beforehand. Is it recommended to fix these issues first and then print it out and start editing?


    I know everyone does things differently, and I'm sure I'll figure out my own way. I may even buy a book to help (though the last time I bought a book to guide me, it hindered more than it helped, so maybe I won't). I just wanted to get the basics set first, set out my to-do list so that I know exactly where I'm going next.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
  2. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    First off congratulations on your upcoming accomplishment. I really don't have the expertise to comment but that won't stop me. I wonder if when it is said to check for SPaG errors first that means to include fixing things like homonyms? For example sometimes when I read a post that has several grammatical errors I get confused by what is meant, and homonyms can really throw things off. Furthermore since there are programs to check much of the SPaG type stuff it might be the easiest first step.

    Also something that Peachalulu has told me in the past is to read the story out loud to yourself. That was targeted towards a short story at the time but it really does reveal a lot about how the story comes across when you hear it. Again there are programs that will read it out to you as well, I have never had a reason to try them out on something as large as a novel so I don't know how that will go. Would be really cool if it could use different voices for the various character tags but that might be asking too much.

    Again congratulations on your progress.
     
  3. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    My strategy would be to essentially start over from a mindset perspective. You may have some notes or some ideas that you came up with along the way, but they might be just as outdated as the prose they're meant to fix.

    The very first thing I'd do is let it breathe. Give it a week or so. Maybe longer. Get some good distance from it. The more distance you can get, the better. I'm able to tear my second novel apart now that it's been 2 years since I finished it. I doubt I'd have been as ruthless 1.5 years ago. That doesn't mean you have to wait years, just be mindful of how much more objective having distance can make you.

    Then, once I'm ready to attack the piece, I'd take it from beginning to end anew. As in, forget anything I thought I knew about it, anything I had planned, and read it as a reader. Easier said than done, of course, but I'd try my best. Like I said, any notes you may have made could be as outdated as the prose. Your ideas may have changed. Your skill may have improved. See if those notes still apply, but wait until you get to them. I wouldn't skip through and update those sections first, just because it would be a waste of time to do that, then go through from the beginning and find that half of it needs to change again anyway.

    But that's just how I work. I'm very linear. I can't write out of order, and I don't think I'd be able to edit out of order either. You may be different. YMMV, as they say.

    However, I think the practice of setting it aside and letting it sit for a while is pretty universal. Definitely do that :)
     
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  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Xamadu, more or less.
    To start with your questions:

    1. Yes! But Like said above, the first thing you should do it let it (and you) rest for at least a month. By that time you're going to see it differently. Then print it out and start reading. Don't stop to edit in this phase, just read it through like a reader would, but you can make notes on the side.

    2. I see absolutely no point in starting with the SPaG-issues first, because it's quite possible that you'll make new ones during revision and rewriting. Instead try to focus on the biggest issues first, like you said, with the plot, chapters needing rewriting, characters to add or remove etc, and work your way down to the smaller scale issues.

    3. Hm, I don't know if that matters much. I'd say let it rest first and leave that to later, but that is just me. It's also possible that with some distance you'll look differently at it, and maybe it just needs minor tweaking to work, or that what you thought didn't work actually does something for the story that you didn't think of before.
     
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  5. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    While I agree with both Xanadu and Tesoro in general I get the feeling that Lea`Brooks is anxious to get this story moving. I also felt like if she already identified issues she should work on them before calling it a first draft, which sort of goes against the thread title referencing 2nd draft. I also think that the SPaG checks if done via program would be a quick action to take, why waste paper printing if you already have things identified to fix? You can and should run the SPaG check again after every major revision I would think. I still feel the SPaG errors could affect how you view your own story.

    At the same time, it would be wise to save a copy to file of what she has before making any changes. With her experience on this forum that is probably pretty obvious, but a reminder can't hurt. It seems ambitious to me to write twelve more chapters in just a little over a week, at that rate the first thirty might have been done in less than four weeks. To wait several weeks to go back for a first review would be difficult for me in that situation. Second review, yeah, I would want to feel that I really captured the stories essence on file (really want to say paper) before my mind wandered too much.
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks everyone! I appreciate all the input.

    Before I researched, I had never thought to sit with the story and read it, start to finish. So I'm glad I reached out, otherwise I would've missed that important step.

    To be honest, @tonguetied hit the nail on the head. I'm anxious to get moving. I wrote my first word of this story on August 1, but I only wrote for one month straight before I had to take a month and a half break (illness, vacation, and moving to a new house). I started up again on October 20 and haven't stopped since. So if you don't include the break in the middle, it's only taken me 49 days to get here, with another 5 days to go if I stick to my plan. And since I've been writing two chapters a day all week, I don't see any reason why I'd slow down now.

    Putting it aside for a month sounds brutal to me, and as much as I understand how it can help, I don't know if I'm going to be able to do it. I've gotten into such a routine of sitting down every morning to work, and I don't want to break that now. I could start on something else to keep my routine going, but I'm worried the momentum of a new story would carry me away from my current one.

    As a member on here regularly reminds me, I have a habit of dropping projects. I spend so much time building them that by the time I'm able to write it, I'm no longer interested in the story. I'm afraid that if I don't jump on these revisions now, that'll happen here too. I'll start second guessing my ideas, thinking they're crap, and I'll eventually either change so much it needs to be completely rewritten or I'll scrap it all together.

    So I think to save myself the risk of going backwards, I'm going to skip the waiting phase.

    I do still consider this my first draft, though, even though I've been mindful of the issues my story has. I've kind of just allowed it to grow without my control, and when it started growing away from what I originally planned, I made a note to go back and fix that inconsistency. So there's a lot I know of right away that needs fixing. I think I'll probably fix all of those before I read it through, though. It would probably drive me crazy to read it, knowing I'm making notes I already made before.

    So my plan: fix current issues I know about, print it out, read it and make new notes, fix those, repeat until done.

    Thanks for all the advice!! :D


    ETA: I just realized it took me 31 days to write 33k words (before I took my break). Since I started up again on October 20 (18 days ago), I've written 44k words. More words in less time. Averaging about 2500 a day, only having 20k words left, I see no reason why I can't finish in five days. Sorry for the randomosity. Just proud of my new drive. :p
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  7. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with you about the momentum. It's a balance of refreshing your eyes (brain) and staying motivated till the end- look, it could take years.

    One way (I think) to keep you charged for subsequent drafts without taking breaks is to mix it up, either by your type of revision or your medium.

    It sounds like someone already suggested reading your story strt to finish. I agree. Read it as a reader and just highlight big picture issues as you go. Then after you're completely finished, go back to the highlights and fix your story(big picture wise). At this point, you shouldn't be tired of the actual words, because you were focusing on the whole, not the parts.

    3rd draft might be a good time to go back and work on something like pacing and tension. I'd say this is mid level micro stuff. It's not on the level of the word, but on the level of the paragraph/sentence .

    Then maybe fourth draft you want to go macro again, but this time look at characterization.

    I'd save the vey micro things(clarity, brevity, and obviously SPAG) till the end, after all the more conceptual stuff has been taken care of. That doesn't mean you can't make a change of you see it, but the point is you're only focusing on one aspect at a time so you don't get fatigued more than you have to.

    Printing on paper, reading on ereader, changing fonts, are also al ways to help you see the text with fresh eyes without taking a three month break, although at some point, I'm willing to bet you'll want a break :)
     
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  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your new plan makes good sense to me. I think fixing the current issues while they're fresh in your brain should work well, and then printing it out (or changing the font on the computer screen, or whatever it takes to give you fresh eyes) will help you catch other issues.

    I would recommend letting it sit for a while after you've gotten it as good as you can. This can be while you've got it sent out to betas, and assuming you plan to submit to agents/publishers, it can be a good time to work on your query, plot summary, etc.

    Actually, you may want to write your plot summary earlier in the process - I find it can be a good way to catch pacing issues and logical inconsistencies.

    And then, of course, if you're submitting to agents/publishers, you may end up doing more revisions later, either after getting a lot of rejections or getting an R&R or something. Lots of times to play with the words!
     
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  9. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I also agree with @BayView. When reading your first post I was inclined to caution you too in being too eager to jump on it, yet if there are obvious logical/plot issues to fix it totally makes sense to fix them now while they are fresh in your mind.

    I would still suggest after this first edit to let it sit for a while. I've noticed how I approach my own small chapters when coming fresh to them and it is amazing the insight this can give you.
    e.g. One time I started reading some textfile I found randomly on one of my storage harddrives. I read these about 1000 words in a go and was amazed how well I liked the style and looked for other files who would continue the story. But I still did not remember where this file had come from, and only after puzzling over it a bit realized that I had not saved it from somewhere on the internet (which I don't do anyway except in very, very rare circumstances and where it is legally downloadable), but that it actually was one of my own from about two years back :eek:. I still don't remember writing it so that says something about my absentmindedness *sigh*.

    So yes, I say letting a bit of water flow down the river is a very good thing AFTER you get the story working without flaws in the first review and being provisionally satisfied. It lets you get a fresh perspective. Just my five cents..
     

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