1. Sulla
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    Sulla Member

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    The Second Draft

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sulla, Sep 23, 2012.

    After you finish your first draft what is your next step?

    Do you focus on structure? What aspect of structure? Do you work on grammar?

    I have a hard time starting the work of the second draft. It can feel daunting at times.
     
  2. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    Revision is my favorite part of writing. Often I have to give myself a little mental slap to stop going back and re-reading/re-writing what I wrote, and just write new stuff.

    We all have our own system of how to revise. With me it's ongoing, especially if I step away from something for months at a time and go back to it. I need to re-read some and tweak here and there to get back into it. But to answer your question, that's when I start to pay more attention to things like punctuation and grammar. When I'm on a roll writing the first draft, I don't care about that stuff because to me it's more important to get the words down.
     
  3. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    That depends on what you did in your first draft. My second draft consists of figuring out what works and what doesn't, as I now finally have the whole story. Maybe this character is pointless, maybe that scene should be earlier in the story, that character doesn't act consistently, this part is boring, why is this crap even here, etc. Not before I fix all of that do I focus on the actual writing (my third draft), since if you work your butt off editing each sentence, you might be more hesitant about changing or deleting it if you later realize it doesn't work.
     
  4. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    Haha, that made me laugh. I so know what you mean too. I can't tell you how many times I've gone back and asked this question. That's when I do a cut/paste of whatever to go into a new document. I rarely outright delete anything, just save it in its own file. Just in case.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    When you read through your first draft, what are the three to five biggest problems (in general terms) it exhibits?

    That is your road map for the second draft.

    Of course, spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes are always fair game. But anything else that isn't part of your roadmap should go on the roadmap for a subsequent draft. That way, you remain focused on the plan for the current revision pass.

    Three to five focus points is the practical limit of what you can actively keep in your thoughts, so limit your roadmap accordingly. Otherwise, you won't do as good a job on your revision as you are capable of.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I save my first draft to a separate file and start a new file for the second. I never completely lose anything I write. Honestly, I can't figure out why so many others delete big chunks of their stuff without keeping backups - it makes no sense!

    To build my second draft, I first go over the first draft to find out where the story is. I don't work from an outline, so there's always a large amount of stuff in the first draft that just doesn't belong in the story - all that stuff was added when I was still unsure of which way the story would go. Once I figure out the story, I delete everything that isn't part of it. This means cutting whole chapters - sometimes tens of thousands of words. Doing that invariably results in big gaps that need to be filled, so I go back and write tens of thousands of words of new stuff to fill them. I usually write more new stuff than I deleted, so the second draft is longer than the first. The new material not only fills in the plot gaps, but also strengthens the theme and makes the story deeper.

    Because I go over each sentence and paragraph pretty often as I write, I'm confident in my grammar, rhythm, and style as I write. So it's rare that I need more than two "drafts." If a work is unusually difficult, or its purpose changes a lot between drafts, I may do three.

    That describes how I do revisions of novels and novellas, and I only have two novels and three novellas right now. Most of what I've been working on recently is short stories. The approach is the same, but of course, the chunks I delete and add are much smaller.
     

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