By: Jennifer Ellis
A fellow writer recently asked me to do a post on how to find the motivation to do a second draft. I was up to my ears in my second draft for a pen name novel, so held off for a couple of weeks, but now with that novel published and a blank page ready to start on my fourth Derivatives of Displacement novel, I have time to do a couple of posts (and catch up on the consulting work that I skipped while intensely proofreading).
A second draft means different things to different people.
A second draft even means different things to me, depending on whether I am working on a short or long piece and whether I am working on something I’m going to publish under my own name, or my pen name.
Everyone’s editing process is slightly different, especially for the second draft. Some people will read their book through in its entirety and make revision notes, some will start working on the prose while they do an initial pass, looking for plot holes and structural issues. Some will approach it in a linear fashion starting from page one and working their way through page by page, whereas others will go where they know the biggest problems are and work on those one by one.
There is no right way to do it. The important thing is that you do it. Generally, a second draft is reserved for more structural edits, fixing plot holes, addressing major issues, adding or deleting scenes. Thus it is generally inadvisable to spend a lot of time polishing prose until later drafts as some of it may be deleted anyway. I tend to do a combo with stuff I publish under my own name, doing an initial non-linear blitz of problems that I have on my revision list, and then a complete pass through where I sharpen the prose, fix the no brainer sentence structure problems, amp up the characterization, and look for other structural or major problems to be fixed. For shorter stuff and my pen name stuff, which tend to be less complex, I combine these two steps into one linear pass through.
A second draft is tough.
. . .
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