The first draft of anything is shit
On good days, I write waaaay too fast - some days I’ve written ten pages (3k words) in a few hours, one day I remember writing a twenty page short story in a single session. If I know exactly what’s going to happen in the story and it’s one of the more action-orientated or dialogue-led chapters, I write rapidly. It’s not always good (that short story is nothing I’m proud of) but sometimes that initial burst is pretty solid and only needs minor tweaks. It’s a surprising process, but never a predictable one. Somedays I write and write and write and it’s all destined for the bin. The great thing is that I can do it again - no-one’s being disappointed except me if I have a stinker. It can get frustrating but writing without external pressure is a huge advantage I have at present.
Re-writing the end of the novel in the second draft has been essential because I changed completely many elements of the story. I’ve also re-written the last quarter of it entirely because it will be (hopefully) exciting to read so it has also proven exciting to write, which means it will need careful review otherwise I’ll be cheating my readers. The various storylines have to be tidied up and characters' journeys completed.
The first draft was me finding my feet, discovering my characters and working on the framework of a story. When I read it through I found the pacing off (too slow to start, too fast to finish) and the story confused, exposition either too apparent or, conversely, completely absent. I have attempted to address these failings with the second draft and at the moment, with three chapters to finish, it feels good. But it still won't be 100% right, and with the third draft, the last I hope before I test it with a couple of early readers, I will look at ensuring each word, sentence, paragraph and chapter is the best I can do and that I’m telling the story as best I can, as consistently as I can.
Each draft is a layering process, peeling an onion in reverse if you like, each layer adding (or, just as important, subtracting) words and refining what, ultimately, will be a satisfying whole.
And the only thing I know for certain is that my first novel will be okay but nowhere near as good as my second. Whatever that may be.