Writing the first draft of a novel (as I am doing right now) is wonderful and scary and full of surprises. There is nothing quite like the exciting moment you first put down words to see where they go. Also, if you have been spending a lot of time revising and editing, writing something brand new and fresh, is just glorious. If you’ve had to push back ideas and ask noisy characters to wait their turn patiently, finally starting that first draft is just about as exciting as it gets.
However, the first draft is also tricky. It’s entering unknown territory. You may have a plan and a plot, but things change, things happen. Sometimes the characters take over and throw constant spanners into the novel you had envisioned! It is also a draft full of self-doubt. Is this working? Is this rubbish? Then there are the bits that drag. It’s slowing down, what do you do?
Writing your first draft is an exhausting, nerve-wracking business. Compare that to the frustration and tedium that sometimes accompanies the third, fourth or fifth draft, and you might understand why the second draft of a novel is my absolute favourite. Here is why!
- Because it’s surer, more confident than the first. It has a clearer idea of where it is going and why
- It is usually a hell of a lot better than you thought it was! Writing the first draft I am often telling myself how clumsy and awful it is. Going through the second, I tend to get a pleasant surprise. It’s actually not that bad!
- The journey has been mapped out and the plot is staked into place. Yes, things still could change, but the solid basics are there. The journey is basically filled with less trepidation
- The characters have come alive and introduced themselves properly. They were a tad shy to begin with, but that is so not the case now!
- The characters have taken control and surprised me. They’ve taken the wheel from my hands and even changed the direction we were going in
- The themes are growing in strength and making sense
- As I am blundering through the first draft, I can already see how much better I can make it in the second, and this is very exciting
- I’m excited to get back to the start again for a better effort with more tools in my kit and my knowledge about my characters and story
- The hardest bit is over, I’m now refining it, fleshing it, trimming it, shaping it and perfecting it
- I’m not bored of it yet! It’s only the second draft so it is still all shiny and new!
How about you? Which draft do you enjoy the most? Which one is the worst or the hardest? Please feel free to comment and join in the conversation!