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Is it me or is there a COMPLETED SECOND draft in here? (WriteBlog #24)

Unfortunately, the pun in the title doesn't really work, as that kind of draft is spelt draught. But enough self-sabotage.

This week, on Wednesday to be precise, I completed the second draft of the novel I've been blogging about for ages. So yeah, hit my self-imposed deadline of the end of April by about six hours, go team. Now, this doesn't mean it's time to show it to publishing professionals, or indeed other humans at all, but it is a major chunk of work finished, and I'm going to number it as second draft anyway, simply because it gives me a feeling of progress.

So what exactly do I mean by second draft? And what's next if not showing it to others? Time now for a little pause-and-take-stock in the editing process.

"It's like running a comb through the forest."

The second draft, as I'm defining it, involves going through the entire first draft text and trying to turn it into a coherent item, which you could conceivably go through from beginning to end and understand. I'm not saying every detail will be correct or the writing will be beautiful - in fact, that definitely isn't true - but I have a thing that resembles a story.

More excitingly, it more or less resembles the story I wanted to tell when I started this whole process.

In practise, this involved re-ordering or re-writing a lot of scenes, jamming new segments into them, not to mention the heartbreaking deletion of bits which no longer work. My deleted offcuts folder for this project is a terrifying 43,924 words - a lot of work to accept that you may never use.

(Well, there's one whole deleted chapter which may find a home in some future related project, as I still like it, but the story has shifted and left the poor thing homeless. But aside from that, yup, it's all being launched into the void to die.)

But at least it sounds like I've done something. Plenty of new writing, interesting thoughts about old work, gratifying sense of creation. The best editing experience I've yet had. I won't be showing the first or second drafts to anyone, but one definitely advances the other.

So, what's next?

"It's like fighting off an ant invasion using a sledgehammer."

Well, the detailed editing, which I call the third draft because, again, it's nice to feel like you're achieving something. The bit where I go through the text in a finer fashion, potentially more than once, trying to get all the sentences to look and sound nice, spot the details which contradict each other, ruthlessly eliminate words like actually and finally which I use every five minutes and are never fucking worth it.

In short, yes, this is the fiddly part many non-writers assume I'm doing when I first start editing. If only.

It also includes the always-entertaining section where I read the whole thing out loud to myself, alone in my house, hoping to spot awkward sentence construction and over-used words. The current manuscript is only 94,000 words so hopefully that won't take too many thousands of hours.

I still live in hope this won't be a huge chore. The last editing section was surprisingly pleasant, as it was still writing basically, but this really is word-by-word text examination. I'm going to try and push through it relatively quickly to avoid that being too much of a problem - in my dreams, I'm finished by the end of May. In reality, the end of June might be more realistic.

And then. Well, then we really are ready for other people to read the thing. And I'm sure I'll talk about that when the time comes.

Tune in next week to find out how much/little of a boring task this third drafting really is. And then come back the week after that to see me change my mind.


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