Monday Question: How do you tackle the second draft?

Now that rewrites for Houses are done and sent to my agent, I've been kind of at loose ends. To take my mind off of the submission process I've started working on my 2010 Nanowrimo novel. 

found at the Bentley Historical Library website
Yeah. It's kind of like that.

Lately I find myself thinking about second drafts and awful first drafts and what it takes to pull a decent manuscript out of this kind of mess. (My first drafts are usually very messy, despite the fact that I'm an outline person at heart.)

So that's my question today. Are your first drafts messy or cohesive? And once the initial draft is done, how do you go about revising it?

Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. I actually, because of my *cough* perfectionist writing style, have a very good first draft-- I practically have only one draft, because all I have left to do after writing it is some slight revision.
    However, with my 2010 NaNovel, it's a jumbled mess and I'm basically rewriting the entire stinkin' thing.... grr.... makes me frustrated :P

    But the way I revise is just go from the top of the story and work my way through, jotting down corrections and notes, and then, well, doing the corrections :P Dunno if that was actually helpful or not, but oh well.....

  2. My first drafts are a total mess. I don't outline and I don't edit. Yeah, that bad.

    While I'm writing my first draft, I make a note of all the things that will need work. For example, I might have added a character in the 2nd half so I need to add them to the 1st half etc.

    I start my second draft with a read through (NO EDITING at this point) and make a note of anything I think will need revision, so I end up with an editorial letter of sorts.

    With The Silagree, I made flash cards for each scene which helped me to unjumble the plot and see where I needed new scenes etc.

    When this is all done, I revise, starting with the biggest plot issues first. Rinse and repeat until I've crossed off everything on my editorial letter.

    Phew! That was more detailed then I intended.

  3. I had a huge response and Google ate it! >_> Maybe it was the interwebs' way of telling me I talk too much.

    Annnyway, basically: sometimes I edit as I go. With my current novel (which I've been working on for over a year, and which is only missing the epilogue), I did a lot of writing in chunks. Mostly, this was because I had NO idea where to go next, but I was doing a ton of world-building and character-building, too. I would write up to like, 18,000 words in the novel and then stop, reread, edit, tweak, make sure I was happy with that section. Then I'd write and hit 40,000 words and do the same thing, but from the beginning.

    I've found I do this more often lately, even during NaNo. Go back, reread, tweak. (Which, I know, is one of the huge "NOOO" things of NaNo.) I've always heard that if you don't finish a draft, you don't have a book to edit, and this is true. I tell people this. Except I think I've gotten to the point in my writing where I trust that I can finish the book--but sometimes I can't finish it until I know I'm happy with what I've already written. If I hadn't done this with my current novel, I think I would have had so much more rewriting to do, but as it was, I had all the pieces pretty much where I wanted them. I've still gone back and changed or added little things in, but the structure is already in place.

    With this current novel of mine, I finished the draft. (Except for the epilogue--I'm going to try again to write that today. It's been SO TRICKY.) Then I printed it out and edited it on paper. Fixed those edits on my computer and printed it out again. Handed it to my husband, who rips apart all of my manuscripts when I'm done with them. I'm so, so thankful to him for that. He's thorough, practical, and holds nothing back. He went after it, edited it, and helped me smooth out some wrinkly plot points. I was also amazed when I went through his edits and had four or five pages at a time WITHOUT any notations. (If you saw the edits he made on some of my other manuscripts, with marks everywhere and whole pages crossed out, you would know how incredible that is.)

    Then, when my husband was done, I fixed the manuscript again, and sent it out to my lovely band of volunteer test readers. I haven't heard back from any of them yet, but once I do, I'll see what else I'll have to fix. (While I write this stupid epilogue. *kicks it*)

    I'm also working here and there on revising last year's NaNo draft. O_O I've got half of it reread and edited. The last half has to be entirely rewritten, and I haven't felt quite up to that task yet. (I have had a couple friends who read through the messy, messy first draft and that helped me pinpoint more things that I want to change.) Once I rewrite, it will be more rereading, editing, printing it out, reading it again, giving it to my husband, editing again, sending to more test readers, editing again...

    I don't think the editing truly ends until the book goes to print. O_O

  4. By the time I've actually finished a novel, I've got it all typed up on Google Docs. I take that and create a duplicate, in the duplicate I just start reading and making changes. Every change I make, I change the text color to bright red. I want to see how much I'm changing within my second draft! When I'm done with that, I open another doc, and copy and paste the work I've done into that. I format it the way I really want it. This last copy will be my complete second draft when I finish.

    So far, there's only been one novel that I've actually reached editing stage. I was kind of dreading the whole process because of all the horror stories I'd read/heard about, but I'm actually really enjoying it!

  5. I outline, edit, and make copious notes as I go. So usually, by the time I approach the send draft, I know where I'm headed.

    I'll usually give the first draft to my twin sister, so her comments help as well.

    Good luck!!

  6. Director- I know the feeling! My Nano novel is totally a jumbled mess. Mostly I'm trying to figure out how to order all these disconnected scenes. *sigh*

    Jade- That's actually close to what I'm doing. I've plugged my scenes into Scrivener so they are all on "flash cards" of a sort. Yay for organizing!

  7. Laura- LOLOL. I hate it when the Interwebs eats my comments. And my husband likes to tear my stuff apart too, so I'm right with you there.

    I want the editing to end! *dreams the impossible dream*

    Georgianna- Ooo...I've never thought of using Google Docs that way! I must look into this.*grin* (I have used 'track changes' in Word to keep track of what I've edited though.)

  8. Renee- Yay for outlining! My last book I did the outlining and note taking before-hand, pretty much the same way as this one. The difference is, my last book took me much longer to write. I only did 500-1000 words a day.

    Maybe that's why it was so much cleaner.... *sigh*

  9. I have a pretty good idea where I want a story to go first draft, so it's not tooo bad at that point. Then, definitely some time away, before a simultaneous read and edit with a critique partner, where we compare notes and discuss along the way. It helps to have that second pair of eyes at this point.

  10. I use my critique partners comments to revise. Elana Johnson has a great post on revising in 30 days. I think if you searched her blog for revising or revision, you could find it.

  11. Joanne- I agree with you about the second pair of eyes. And the time away. I think time away is the only thing that allows me to edit with any kind of objectivity.

    Natalie- Ooo! I'll do that. Thank you!

  12. I usually edit as I write, so my first drafts are fairly clean. However, I just finished a first draft this week that is a muck-covered mess, mainly because I turned off the internal-editor, and wrote it at NaNo speed. We'll see what comes of it in the weeks ahead. Good luck to you!

  13. Amanda- Thank you. And good luck to you as well! *sends Amanda rewrite cookies*

  14. I go vveerryy slowly on the first draft ... it makes it easier afterwards ... I think anyway! For the second draft I just re-read it, highlighting anything I want to change ... generally just awkwardly worded sentences etc. I usually type, and write up rough notes in alarming amounts of notebooks ... you know the usual, half-used school copies, ... hahaha .... mother says I have to practice using pen and paper for exams ... also, I get one good idea, start writing crazyily and then other times I can dwell on on a plot for aaggeess before evem sitting down at my laptop ... which reminds me - my computer over-heated a few days ago (yes, I know, I'm n idiot ...) and I nearly lost my novel (yes, I know, holiday photos etc. don't apparently matter, just this thrice-damned writing process that has taken over my life ...) ... but it's OK, 'coz my dad is a tech genius ... he reminds me of Foaly - Artmis Fowl fan-girl swoon. XD


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