Yesterday I finished the 1st draft of my second novel “The Ship”.  The word count came in at 139, 345.  A bit high I admit, but a damn sight better than what my first novel “The Bridge” came in at.  That sucker wound up in 195,000 words.  Man did that puppy need some serious editing and rewriting.  I finally got it down to 102,000 words before I finally released it.  Yeah, I practically took a chainsaw to that sucker.

      So what’s my next step?
      First up is PROOFREADING!  I’ve been lucky enough to have a trusted beta-reader who has been checking my spelling, punctuation, etc. the entire time that I’ve been writing “The Ship”.  I kept all the corrected pages she sent back and am going through them and making the corrections already.   So far, 166 of the 525 pages have been fixed on that front.  It’s been going pretty fast, but she told me a while back that she was finding a lot fewer mistakes in my writing this time around and that my style had matured.  I was very glad to hear this.  I have been trying very hard to do a better job this time around, so it’s good to hear my efforts are showing.
 After the proofreading, I intend to start a second draft.  How will this be different than the proofreading? Simple, once the grammatical errors are fixed I can re-read the story myself and start looking for unnecessary repetition of ideas/concepts, simplifying concepts, expanding on thoughts where it might help the reader, eliminating scenes or characters who do not really make a serious impact on the plot, etc.
      When I write a first draft, it’s simply to get the entire story told.  Only then can I go back and look at it from a reader’s perspective and see if it’s all making sense.  I’ll also study the pacing, the details, are the characters actions logical and  if not is there a reason, etc.  Automatically, a lot of the repairs and adjustments I make will start cutting down the word count.
      After I’ve completed the 2nd draft, I may unleash it on a few ‘trustworthy’ beta-readers to get their impressions.and feedback.  From there a 3rd draft will be made incorporating some, but not necessarily all, their ideas. Why won’t I use all of it, because I’m already plotting the next story in the series.  Some of what they talk about, might be things needed to help set the stage for the next book.  They will have no idea of this, but I do and I’m not sharing that info just yet.  I don’t want to spoil the next book in the series for them.
     As you can see, finishing a first draft is a huge accomplishment, but the work is just beginning.  There’s so much more to be done, before I release the book in its final form to the public.  There is a lot to think about in creating your novel.  NEVER publish your first draft and say “It’s perfect as it is!”  You will regret it.  Take the time to go over it and have others add their input.  But choose those editors, beta-readers, and proofreaders carefully.  You could wind up with a bunch of “Yes-Men” who offer only praise and no solid advice.
     Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have more proofreading to do.  Until next time… keep writing.

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