As of today I’m already a third of the way through the 2nd draft of “The Ship”.  Progress has been good and I’ve been pleased with how things are going.  There will probably be a 3rd draft as well.  What happens after that?  Well, that’s a tale for another entry.

Today I wish to discuss how I deal with a 2nd drafts.  I handle 3rd and 4th drafts the same way, so don’t expect any blog entries on those.  It’s the same process all over again to try catch whatever I missed on the previous draft.

Like many authors, I’ve been learning a lot of things on my own.  There’s no exact set of rules for how to do  write and create a book, though many people have tried to explain it.  Every author is going to handle things differently, whether its how they create a story (with an outline, flying by the seat of your pants, etc.) to editing, proofreading, whatever.  Different things work for different people.

In my case how I handle dealing with 2nd drafts is pretty straightforward.  After I complete the first draft on my computer and save it.  I will then save it again using the “Save As” function and labeling it differently.  In this case “The Ship 2nd Draft”.  From there I will begin going over the entire story, page by page.  I already know what the current word count is (139,806 in this case).  I know this is one of the things I want to change about the book.  I also want to keep track of the pacing of the story, as well as watch out for ideas or concepts being repeated unnecessarily.

I proceed to go over the story line by line.  As I go along I try to keep an eye out for excess verbage such as “he/she said” because it’s usually pretty easy to tell who was speaking.  Another thing I watch out for are sentences beginning with “now” or “but”.  Sometimes I’ll use them unnecessarily, and also, if used too often they can be a little jarring to the eyes of the reader.

Another thing I’ll be looking for as I go along is how well I phrased certain ideas.  Does it read smoothly or is there something not quite right.  I may rewrite a paragraph or line and make it more easy to understand and pleasing to the eye.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll also be keeping an eye out for plot points or ideas being repeated in two or more areas of the novel.  I don’t know about you, but I spend weeks or even months writing a novel.  So I sometimes I forget what I wrote a few weeks back and wind up repeating myself later in the story.  This happened a lot in my first novel “The Bridge”.  However, I seem to have gotten better about it, because I haven’t been finding that happening as often in “The Ship”.

Finally, one other thing I’ll do as I go along is see if every scene, or even characters, are really relevant to the story.  I have removed characters, or even entire scenes, more than once from my stories.  I’ll do this because either the character or subplot is not really needed, or they feel really out of place and don’t belong in this particular story.

I’ve also removed lengthy scenes and simplified them because I plan on using the much longer version as the basis for a follow up short story, or another novel entirely.  Certain references that appear in “The Ship” will be expanded upon in a collection of short stories I’m planning on doing down the road.

So that’s an overview of how I handle 2nd, 3rd and 4th drafts.  All of these things help to cut down the word count as well as allow me to tighten the story up and improve the overall piece.  Mind you, I still plan on getting the book edited by others.  I’m just particular about getting the entire story down and told in a certain way before I let anyone else even get a glimpse of it.

As I said at the beginning, how I handle drafts and rewrites may not be the same as other people.  What’s your way of dealing with 2nd drafts and rewrites?  Enquiring writing minds would like to know, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below, this way we can all benefit and learn from each other.

Until next time, take care and keep writing.

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