There are thousands of way to hone your first draft into the finished, hopefully-soon-to-be-published, shiny final copy. I’m new to this and the amount of information is simply staggering. You could actually spend all the time you have carefully set aside for editing, reading the ‘how to do it’ guides. And there lies the problem of the internet. There is just too much shiny out there!
I decided to go about it my own way, knowing I would learn from the process and if it didn’t work I would know not to do it like that next time.
Approaching your manuscript for the second time is a bit of a minefield. I hadn’t read through mine when writing (which was, co-incidentally, one of the best pieces of advice I took on board) so whilst you’re hoping that you’ll be bowled over by the magnificence of it, there is always that lurking doubt that you might suddenly discover that it all sucks to a degree where you feel a real urge to burn it…
My second draft was purely reading and taking notes. I squashed the need to fiddle with it somehow, and just made lots and lots of notes either on paper or in the Scrivener inspector. Some scenes only had a few scribbles whereas some had a ridiculous amount of question marks and comments like ‘elaborate’ or ‘POV’. After I did this I went through and acted on all of the notes, which could actually have been called the third draft I’ve just realised. But, hey ho.
Draft three was *pause for effect* The Timeline. My story has a lot of characters doing numerous things that have a bearing on each other and it all takes place (or most of it) over a few days. I created four A6 sides of paper with the complete timeline. Incredibly there were only a few minor time glitches to correct, apart from one whole scene that didn’t gel. After thinking it through I deleted the scene. It wasn’t needed and my timeline showed it. Trust your story.
Draft four was what I affectionately call the George R R Martin one – cutting the unnecessary words, beheading the passive voice. You’ll be clueless if you haven’t read the books or watched the show 😉
By this time I was in so deep that I could almost quote whole passages from the manuscript, far too deep to do any more good in fiddling.
So this is where I handed it over to my beta readers (who are the most selfless, amazing people, giving up their creating time to help another writer. All hail the beta reader ).
When I get all their feedback I can begin on revisions. Draft five I will be coming for you!