1. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    The Second Draft

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TLK, May 12, 2013.

    Hi guys,

    So I've just started on the second draft of my first novel but, other than the obvious mistake correcting, adding clarification and improving sentences, I'm not really sure what else to do. The second draft seems to be a big thing for most people, but I was wondering why? Finally, are there any tips I should bear in mind?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Ah...hit out of the park on the first try, eh...?
     
  3. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    I'm not sure what you mean by this... :L

    I haven't given up, if that's what you mean, I just wanted tips and advice on what I'm doing. To make sure I'm doing everything I should be doing, if you like. I'm still pretty new to the ins and outs of writing.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well done on getting to the second draft. First fix all the basic mistakes like spelling, grammar, and perhaps any flaw in consistency (eg. MC having blue eyes on p.5 and then brown eyes on p.50 etc). Look at the bigger picture - do the plot, events etc flow? Is the character development clear and logical? Are things explained well so that the readers understand the twist at the end? Examine the build up of the story. The first draft is really just the gathering of all the lego blocks and sorting them out into some kind of order. The second draft is about dismantling these lego blocks and rebuilding it, adding any missing blocks you hadn't noticed, taking out any extra blocks that are superfluous, exchanging the red block for the black block because it somehow just FITS better, even if the red black had worked fine before.

    Redo all of the above, and then read it again. At some point after a number of repeats, you'll be ready to go for the polishing (rewriting any awkward sentences, adding little details, making paragraph breaks, word choice etc).
     
  5. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I use my second draft as a 'hard copy' edit. That's where I see the glaring issues that exist and the cut and slash them. My novel started at 134.7k after rough draft. It was down to 119.6k after my first draft and I'm within probably 10-11 K words from finishing the edit and it'll be around 95-98K. That's another 10% off. Between the two edits more then 20% has been cut. The third will be checking all sentences, etc before setting it down into one single file for submission.
     
  6. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, the second draft is definitely a big deal. I take long breaks after finishing my first drafts. I took an eighteen month break between the first and second drafts of my WIP (twice as long as it took to write the first draft!). I occasionally re-read it, but I only edited obvious spelling errors. I spent one month planning how I was going to tackle the second draft before I began writing it. I made a list of goals I wanted to achieve - here's an example of just a few of them:


    • cut one of the six main characters; demote another into a more minor role.
    • move the death of a key character to earlier in the story to create a stronger impact.
    • use a more minimalistic writing style.
    • cut approx 50% of the overall length.

    It's not that there is anything 'wrong' with the first draft - it was well-received by those who read it. But after taking time away from it I realised that making some changes could improve the overall quality of the story. I still enjoy re-reading the first draft, but the second draft reads so much better.


    The next story I plan to re-draft was originally written over four months in winter 2008/09. It doesn't need as drastic an overhaul in terms of plot, but the narrative needs tightening.
     
  7. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Nee was using a baseball reference. Hitting the ball out of the park is excellent because it guarantees a home run which is the best thing you can get in baseball. :)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it means that if you wrote your first draft so well it needs little work on the second, then it's nearly submission ready and won't need the many edits most folks must go through to get to 'polished'...
     
  9. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Awesome, thanks for all the replies guys, it's all really helpful! :) (And I understand what Nee was getting at now too :p )

    @Koshiko (sorry quoting isn't working for some reason) - Would you recommend taking such a long break before starting the second draft, or is it just something you like to do?

    Also, as a question for everyone, would you recommend doing the second draft edits on screen or on paper. While the former seems easier, for me at least, I think I'd be able to pick up mistakes better if I was reading from paper - i.e. I'd print it out and set about it with a highlighter. It'd be harder to edit since I can't just erase words, but I think It'd be easier to find mistakes. Thoughts?

    Finally, as a bit of an aside, in response to what Kate said, how long does a novel have to be? Or rather, how long should it be? Mine's only just clocked in at over 65k. I figured this would equate to roughly 300 book pages, which to me seems fine. I've seen similar sized, and much smaller, published novels. This novel is intended to be the first in a series too, so I guess that follows the rough pattern of books getting longer as the series goes on.
     
  10. Michael O
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    Michael O Contributing Member

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    Half-life of radioactive isotopes are determined by experimental means. Well frig me with a ratchet! Don't think any of those Phys-Wizs have ever considered measuring the half-life of editing. Especially when idiots write. Infinity/Infinity = Frig it!

    It never ends! Cut your errors in half every time (even that's a frigging joke). But say you can cut them in half ever time...(1/2, 1/4, 1/8. 1/16...) You see now? If I wasn't so frigging stupid....I'd be less frigging stupid. That's a fact.

    Put another way.....I'm just a dumb-ass a wee bit less of a dumb-ass than your dumb-ass. Welcome to the club of enlightened dumb-asses:)

    BTW: Got any spare light bulbs? All the ones in our club-cave are burnt-out.
     
  11. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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    ...and you will be clinically insane. :)
     
  12. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Second draft can be used to:
    Fix/eliminate plot threads that started but when nowhere.
    It can be used to refine dialogue, giving each character a unique voice.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...i always advise doing at least one edit on paper, as you can keep missing the same mistakes/glitches on the screen... it also allows you to read your work from the pov of a reader, which is invaluable for assessing the effectiveness of both your prose and plot... you should read it first as a reader, then as an editor... if it's a book you should do 2-3 print edits, while one is usually enough for short works...

    ...as for how long to set the first draft aside, don't go by whatever anyone else does, as the timing varies greatly and there's no one-size-fits-all... do only what works best for you...

    ... the most preferred/required length by publishers for a first novel by a new and unknown writer is 80-100k, so your 65k is way too short, unless it's for the YA market... do not consider number of pages as the writing/publishing world only goes by word count... it doesn't matter that you've seen shorter novels be successful... they're either by famous writers whos laudry lists would sell well, or rare flukes... and you need to maximize your books chances of being published, not minimize them by counting on being a rare exception...

    ... and do not think of your book as the first in a series, as it must be a stand-alone novel for agents and publishers to find it of interest... do not mention a series in your queries, as that is seen as amateurish, since a majority of new writers seem to think they have to write them and don't put all their efforts into creating a good stand-alone read...

    ...if you're intending to self-publish, then none of these 'musts' are absolute, but you should really go for an agent and a paying publisher, if you want to become a successful author who has a shot at the ny times bestseller lists...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  14. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Awesome, thought this might be the case. Thanks for the clarification :)

    My novel is, in fact, for the YA market - though I'm not sure how much difference it would make. I have a few scenes I can write in at the end of the book. I only ended it when I did because it seemed like a befitting ending. Come to think of it though, I'm not 100% satisfied with said ending, so I think adding more on the end is, in fact, the way forward.

    Yeah, I'm aware of this and been advised about it before. I think it'd be really difficult to make the first novel stand-alone, without compromising one of the main 'themes' of the novel. I do, therefore, plan to write a single stand-alone novel when I get to the point that my series is good enough to put forward to publishers.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if it's for the younger half of the YA market, you probably shouldn't go any higher in word count... but for the upper half, full-sized novels are usually okay...
     
  16. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find I can be more objective when I take a break after completing the first draft. I found that I needed to remove several of my favourite scenes in the second draft of my current WIP - I don't think I would have seen the need to do if I'd started editing straightaway because I was quite attached to them.
     
  17. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Awesome, I'll bear that in mind. Thanks :)
     
  18. DungeonBrain
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    DungeonBrain Banned

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    Why would you necessarily want to cut 50%? I'm curious why that would always be a goal, and I suppose if there is a lot of extraneous substance in the book, it would be a good idea, but that seems like quite a chunk to take out. I'm not big on outlines, but a well planned outline might prevent overwriting in this fashion. Maybe ;)
     
  19. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not a case of over-writing or bad planning (I spent four months working on the outline). What I wanted to achieve with the story changed between drafts.

    The first draft was written for an audience of one: me. It was written just for fun. The second draft was written with a particular audience in mind and to meet certain criteria (with a WC goal of approx 80-95k - whereas the original had been 185k). I actually submitted it yesterday.
     
  20. DungeonBrain
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    DungeonBrain Banned

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    Oh that makes sense. I thought the implication was that a book must always be cut down to that magnitude. Good luck on your submission!
     
  21. A.Tad.of.Conrad
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    A.Tad.of.Conrad Member

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    I laugh and laugh at my first drafts when I go over them.

    Flow, tone, and continuity are usually the problems that I focus on in my 2nd Draft. 3rd tends to focus on grammar and dialogue.

    just me though.
     
  22. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Well, that word count was the plan, but I added a subplot to the novel to add more punch to the lives my characters live. That ate up about 5k of the cut words. Will be finishing around 100-102K range. Still a good 20% of the rough draft, and a handful of chapters, are gone.

    Second drafts, which are hard copy edits for me, are where a writer does a lot of his/her content editing.

    Does this chapter belong? Should I kill this person off or keep them? Does it need a subplot?

    Those are things to be approached during your second draft for sure. This is where you start polishing the diamond to a shine. And as Maia has said, at least one HC edit is needed.
     
  23. ketamineman
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    ketamineman Member

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    the only way i could write my second draft was that i completely rewrote it. i'd say about 95% of the first draft did not show up in the second draft. 1st draft was so terrible. I feel that you can have an idea of what you book is about on the first draft, but i think you just have to write it. then when it is done you read it and you see all these things you were doing subconsciously and really figure out what your book is about. then on the 3rd draft you read over the second draft and figure out how how to write the book right. i always think you will find more and more every time you write it. i say 3 drafts and then a final revision fixing all the mistakes.
     

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