Second Draft Lesson: Slap Down My Perfectionist!

I’ve made a massive mistake with my writing.

I forget about my naughty little re-write habit.

It happened when I looked at the garbled mess of characters and story threads, gaping plot holes and major POV and tense issues, and decided the best plan was to use that as an outline and rewrite from the start. I could see it: consistent POV and tense, avoiding passive voice and adverbs…it was all going to be so much better, so pretty and shiny…

SO PERFECT!

That’s where the alarm bells should have clanged, because I did the exact same thing at least twice with the first draft.

But I knew I wasn’t going to do that. I just needed to open a blank Word document, write through and…

Just change that bit..

And that…

Maybe I’ve started in the wrong place?

And need to change this scene…

And…

How’s it been 3 months and I haven’t aand a minute doing a Search & Replace to update names.ctually made any progress?!

I took a break from the novel. Then I got some feedback that confirmed what I already knew: I needed to cut the new scenes I’d been tweaking for weeks and start later.

Probably from my old starting point.

The one I wrote ages ago.

Because, you know what?

I’ve already written the first draft.

WHY THE HELL AM I WRITING IT ALL OVER AGAIN?!

After kicking myself for being an idiot I spent approximately ten minutes copy/pasting and a minute doing a Search & Replace to update names. I had my new, tweakable second draft.

I worked out a plot template as a checklist in all of about an hour.

I’ve redone the first read through.

So now I have a task list to stick to. No more blank pages to trick me into going back.

For those who are interested, this is it for the next few passes:

  1. Put scenes in chronological order according to outline.
  2. Cut dead scenes.
  3. Add new scenes that I missed for various reasons.
  4. Cut dead threads, scenes and redundant characters.

Only then, am I allowed to check for conflict, flow, logical character decisions…and THEN sort tense & perspective.

I’ve also printed off this guide from Janice Hardy’s Fiction University site ready to check off as I go.

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Leila

Mum, writer, gamer, geek. Trying to master the first two whilst squeezing in time for the latter.

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