Sunday, March 16, 2008

S for Second Draft

Writing is fun. I've been doing it for almost 40 years.

First writing down things I saw on television, later reinterpreting reality, news, events, and 'translating' it for a wider audience. Rewriting events to spread them around.

But after a while, all that reality gets boring, so I switched to writing fiction. It's great fun thinking out things and writing them down day after day, with nobody telling you you're wrong or this isn't possible in real life. Well, that's why it's fiction.

But after finishing up a story, what you need to do is ... looking at it again from a different perspective and writing it again. I took part in last November's National Novel Writing Month event and that was great fun.

But once you have those 100,000 words which are supposed to go into a novel, you have to think about what first the editors and publishers want, and second the readers. That's the second draft, and believe me, that's no such fun.

You look back at your first draft, and you find all kinds of things wrong with it. In chapter two, your main character (or MC, to use the professional writers' lingo) had gray hair, but in chapter five, he's suddenly gone dark. In chapter three, he was driving a Cadillac, but in chapter seven, he jumps behind the wheel of a Corvette. And his way of speaking has changed. Or his way of speaking is too similar to that of about five other characters.

That's why you need a second draft. And then a third, and probably even more. Because no writer is so perfect that a complete book just flows out of his pen or his keyboard the first time around. I have been working on my second draft of my first thriller for three months now, and I'm hoping to complete it by the end of March. Queries to publishers should go out in early April, with replies expected by late May.

Yes, I'm an optimist. Sometime I will make it. I don't know if what you'll get to read will be the third or the seventh draft, but it'll be a finished story.

Keep writing is the message if you want to be a published writer.

Sean Moss for S2S.


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