Posted by: Phil Anderson | February 24, 2014

Third Draft is a Charm, But Not the End

Several months ago I finished the second draft of my next novel. I asked a few readers to look it over, but for myself I set it aside to let it settle and to clear my mind for a bit. I worked on a short story, started a general outline for a future novel, and did a little reading. Now, as I get ready to come back for a third time, I want to figure out what my goal is for this draft and what I’m looking for this time around.

I started the first draft by just writing the plot down and moving the characters through it, getting all my thoughts into words. I had a general idea of the outline, but added in a lot of ideas as I went.

For the second draft, I looked at how the ideas fit together and made sure my plot was cohesive. Plans I had at the beginning of my story changed before I got to the end, and the plot needed to be adjusted. I also tried to ensure that everything made sense, and I ended up rewriting the last few chapters because the original climactic battle was forced and contrived.

Now that I feel good about the plot, I’m ready to give more attention to other aspects. I haven’t gotten much useful feedback from my test readers (more on that in another post) so I’m still mostly on my own. But I have a better understanding of my characters; I know where they’re going and what challenges they’ll have to overcome. I can put more thought and care into making sure their personalities are clear and their motives are consistent. I can develop, expand, and enhance their relationships and interactions.

I’d also like to work on style, especially as it pertains to perspective and point-of-view. But I don’t want to expect or attempt too much from this draft. It will probably take a fourth or fifth pass before I can focus on the real art of writing: smoothing the flow and the rhythm and the pace, finding the perfect words to convey both meaning and feeling, and evoking the reactions I want readers to have.

As I look over these goals and tasks I’m setting for myself, writing seems like a lot of work. And it is, but I enjoy it. In the end, even if no one else reads it, I want to have a story I can be proud of.

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