Third Drafts

I've begun reading through the third draft of my novel. The story is 65,000 words long, 25,000 words longer than the rough draft, so the second draft was very productive as far as filling out the story and giving myself more ideas to work with. I've gotten to this point before, with other stories, and it's always been a double-edged sword for me.

On one hand there's a lot of potential here. Reading through the draft, I'm getting a ton of ideas to make the story even better than it is. I'm finding ways to simplify the writing, focus the plot, flush out the characters, enhance my theme, etc., etc.

On the other hand I'm not looking forward to the intense work necessary to implement all, or even a few, of these ideas.

There are two schools of thought here. On one hand it's the “Don't fix what isn't broken” mentality. Some writers, and I include myself among them, edit way too much. And yet there are many writers out there who insist that rewriting is a necessary part of the process.

It's difficult to know which direction to go in. Should I just clean up what I have, or seek to improve the story beyond the writing, getting into the nitty-gritty details of the plot? Either way, the reader won't know the difference, because the reader won't ever read the rough draft. The reader won't know where I started, only where I finished. But what if I do something to ruin what would have been a good scene? What if I screw the story up by changing it?

As Han Solo once said, “Well, that's the real trick, isn't it?”

I think I can improve the story by changing it. How much I'll change it I don't yet know. I hope not that much because I'm a lazy editor, but I'm also a perfectionist and won't stand for sloppy work.

And to think, I had originally hoped to publish this by January first. I can pretty well throw that deadline out the window. I can hope for February first, or even March first, but in the end the date won't matter. I know I won't publish this story until it's perfect—as good as I can make it. If I have to torture myself to get it done, well, that's just what I'll have to do!

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7 Responses to Third Drafts

  1. I'm not sure if you're just expressing yourself or in need of advice or something. It says "third draft" lol...

    I think you could write the story and finish it, then afterwards edit. Rather than keep on editing and never finish the story at all.

    Another is perhaps, you could ask another person to edit it for you.

    Journals are different from books because what we have are write-ups or solicited articles from different authors. Then we have them peer reviewed. It takes a lot of editing to have it finally published but they do improve a lot.

    Good luck and once you've set your heart into your book, you'll have it published in not time :)

  2. I'm expressing and venting, but I'm always open to advice of any kind :)

    It's "finished". The story is out, from beginning to end, but it's not as simple/straight forward as I'd like it to be. Lots of extra stuff I'd like to cut out and rearrange.

  3. We should feel confident our story.... sometimes it comes in first attempts, but for few it takes series of editing.

    Enjoyed reading your post as always !!

  4. Follow your gut in this, you are a perfectionist you say,? Don't over edit...I'm sure you will know when your done, it appears in your brain unprpted when it is time.

  5. Hello.
    I'm with Jan. Instincts are rarely wrong.
    All the best with publication.
    Thanks for sharing.

    For ref:
    Eleven Roses And You

  6. Yes. write until you are finish, the and only then edit. I am just finished the 3rd edit (decided to change the tense). I have one more round of edits - the ones that count to start now. It is better to finish the story before editing otherwise you never get past the edits. At least that has been my experience.


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