“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story. So let it run. Turn all the knobs up to 11. Second draft: hell. Cut it down and cut it into shape. Third draft: comb its nose and blow its hair.”I finished my first draft of my first novel on February 1st 2016. It was a major personal milestone and I was quietly delighted with my efforts. After taking a few weeks off for Christmas I had returned to the laptop with a vengeance and, although I still had some elements of the plot to work through, I felt I was writing better. I was probably writing too fast (5k words a day) but everything seemed to be clicking in to place.
The first draft ended on page 224, just over 56k words. But it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I wanted it or even polished enough to share with friends. I had too many plot holes, ideas that I’d started but abandoned, characters I’d introduced and left hanging for no good reason and the underlying logic of plot was just plain wrong. And, undermining my confidence on a daily basis, I still wasn’t convinced it was a strong enough idea to hang a novel on.
All the advice I’d received suggested that I needed to leave the first draft in a drawer for six months, create some distance from it, work on something else, and then come back to it when it feels like it was written by someone else and rip it to shreds and start again. The real work starts with the second draft.
But I was impatient. Three weeks later I started the second draft.