Here’s the thing about second drafts

For some reason I had these great, high hopes about NaNoWriMo. I thought, “At the end of November, I’ll have written a novel.” Well, I completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month but it’s five months later and I still haven’t written a novel.

I’ve always been a positive hope-for-the-best kinda gal, which is usually a good thing, but sometimes it gets a bit unrealistic. To think that after one month’s worth of work I’d have a book that could be published and cherished by millions was a little far-fetched. So when I finished and I finally gathered up the courage to read what I had written (I was scared it was crap) and realized there is so much work to be done I almost gave up.

Watercolor_textures_03_by_tuesdayraindropsThankfully, Carolyn gave me Wonderbook and I realized that this is writing. Writing something and then scrapping it and writing something else. Or writing something and keeping most of it and changing a lot of it. Or writing something and adding in a bunch of other somethings. I realized that novelists write drafts of their novels. I seriously had never thought of that. I thought that I’d write one “draft” and then tweak it until it was good. Boy was I naive.

Last week, without knowing it, I started my second draft. I started writing new scenes. I started changing things around in my head. Grayson got a new Job. Finn’s Job got a new description. I added in robots. I took out a huge chunk of “plot.” I made everyone older. And now it’s coming easily again. I’m writing every day again. Probably not 1,667 words like I was during NaNoWriMo but I’m writing by hand this time (it just feels much more natural and wonderful) which takes a bit longer.

When was the last time your hand was sore from writing? It feels good, man.

I feel much better about my story now and through this process of getting started again I realized something. I would like for people to like my book. I would love to make actual real money off of it and would love to be interviewed about my process and my characters. And wouldn’t it be awesome if my book were made into a movie?!

Even though all of that is true, I realized that more than I want to be liked, I want to be good. Because what do people like? Twilight. Blegh. Being liked is as simple as fulfilling people’s expectations, giving them what they want. I don’t want to give people what they want, I want to give people what they need.

When I read Divergent I thought, “Oh, if this is what a best seller turned movie sensation is, then I can do this. Surely I can write a book as good as this.” Not because I’m cocky or because I think Veronica Roth did a bad job, but because this exists:

I don’t want to write according to a formula. I want to write strong, flawed characters who grow and mess up and forgive each other and don’t forgive each other, too. I don’t want the male lead to be somebody everybody loves. Let’s get a Gale versus Peeta thing going on! Minus the love triangle – I don’t play that. No shells of characters over here! (Or at least that’s the goal.) Maybe you can’t relate to my any one of my characters totally and completely, but maybe as you get to know them you can understand and appreciate why they do what they do and maybe you can learn from them, too.

And with that in mind, here we go. Second draft.

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4 Replies to “Here’s the thing about second drafts”

  1. I have to admit that after reading Twilight I thought: if this can get published, I can get published! Writing is difficult, and editing more so, because even once it’s down on paper it isn’t finalized. I’ve read about authors who are still changing lines in books published years ago. It’s a process – a long one. It’s amazing that you wrote 50,000 words in a month. Good work! I haven’t attempted it, because I wrote 32,000 words over the course of several months and then decided my main character had taken some turns I didn’t like. It took another few months to make some serious edits, even ditching my first chapter (typical) but now I think it’s stronger. So, cheers to edits! Good luck on your next draft.

    1. At first I was afraid to cut things – I thought about the long hours I had put in writing all of these words and what a waste it would all be if I just trashed in. Now my mind set has totally changed. It’s freeing crossing out entire paragraphs and throwing out entire chapters because, like your main character, stuff has changed. Thanks for the luck – I’ll take all I can get!

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