Progress: 129,149 words, Thirteen Chapters (Eleven second draft, Two first draft)
My second draft has been guided by emotion, with goals as vague as “getting the right feel for the scene.”
This has served me well enough, and it was evident, shortly after my initial revisions, that grammar and spelling were concerns to be dealt with later.
Most of my time has been spent with the malleable substance of it all, adjusting the pacing of a scene, adding and taking away for comfortable flow, changing characters, combining and cutting scenes. Somehow though, this has been done with only slight regard to the overall picture.
I’ve yet to map out the peaks and valleys of the adventure, or ensure it adheres to any story arc structure or rules. That is what comes next, and on the subsequent drafts I will need a game plan, not just a map of the heart.
Here are my notes for what I’ll be addressing in the next drafts:
Character voice, motivation, purpose: Is there consistency, or if they change, can we understand why? Can I identify who is speaking without identifying them; does their dialogue always sound like them?
Scene purpose and pacing: Does this scene move the story or add to our understanding of the world and characters? Is it too long or too short; does its length disrupt the pacing? Does the scene have strong enough purpose that is not found elsewhere?
Description: Do I set the scene well? Is there an info dump, and is it needed? Can a reader envision the characters? Are they different enough?
Flashbacks: Do they segue well? Is their placement a welcome break from the present or a disruption?
Once I have these larger issues resolved, I can move on to the checklist below:
1. Language matches character (i.e. “tha” instead of “the”)
2. Common phrasing; if it sounds too familiar (overused), change it
3. Overused words
5. Dialogue formatting and tags
6. Adverbs (cut them)
7. Change passive to active voice (the doer/subject at the beginning of the sentence).
11. Spaces at the beginning and end of paragraphs (blue dots)
12. Language choice (British/American spelling, like gray or grey, jewelry or jewellery) Also, “Toward” or “Towards,” “Cannot” or “can not.”
13. Paragraph flow (i.e. sentence length changes are not jarring or sluggish)
For a final draft, assuming the beta readers and critique partners have no suggestions for radical alterations, I will look to slim it all down. While I do want beauty and lyricism in the text, I want a tight read, one which keeps people going. That means cutting every extra word that isn’t pulling its weight, condensing a three word phrase into one word encompassing the same expression.
There’s still much to be done, but each day it gets better. Every choice I make brings it all together. The shuffling, and trimming, and revising are the many small steps that raise the work up to something grander. It’s what takes raw words and turns them into a novel.
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