What?! After all that hard work I put in, now you want me to rewrite? WTH.
Before you get angry with me, ask yourself if you are truly ready for a stranger to read your novel and post a review. Chances are the answer is no.
You wrote the first draft of your novel in step two. If you’re the type of writer who likes to take their time making sure every sentence and every scene is perfect, you may not have to do much when rewriting your novel. The more time you spend writing the first draft of your novel, the less time you will need to spend on rewriting the novel.
Since I like to write the first draft quickly, I spend more time on the second draft. Here are some of the things I do in this second draft:
Develop the Scenes
Sometimes when we write, we’re so caught up in writing the action and dialog that we forget to flesh out the scene. When you read your rough draft, look for places where you told the story rather than showed it. Look for places where the mood of a scene can be improved. Where is it taking place? What does this place look like? What time is it? What are the characters doing? What are they wearing? How does the point of view character feel about what he or she is doing? How do they feel about where they are? How do they perceive the other characters?
There are a myriad of questions to ask when fleshing out your scenes. But don’t get too caught up in it. For one, you don’t want to make the scene too boring by adding too much detail. For another, not all scenes require a lot of description. If you’re writing a high action scene, for example, your point of view character wouldn’t take a lot of time noting what the scene and the other characters look like. And If you’re character wouldn’t do it, neither should you.
Make Story Changes
A story doesn’t always come out right the first time you write it. Does a scene contribute to the plot? Is something missing? Is something not working? Is it too long or too short? Is the transition from one scene to the next too jarring? Are the events in the proper order? Does the plot make sense? Is everything too easy for your character?
Add scenes – Sometimes you find you need to add characters, events, or other elements. Perhaps after you wrote your story, you realize how cool it would be to add a sub-plot. Or maybe you realize you need another character to help push your main character along or complicate things for him.
Delete scenes – Don’t be afraid to remove what doesn’t work. You might love a particular scene, but it doesn’t contribute to the plot. Or maybe you realize one scene is too much like another scene, and one of them needs to go. If you hate the idea of deleting, copy and paste it into a new document and save it.
Switch scenes around – Maybe you realize your protagonist needs to meet your antagonist earlier in the story. Or maybe your character faces the hardest part of their journey too early. Your character’s journey should get increasingly difficult. Sure, he can solve a problem and be in his happy place somewhere in the middle of the story, but something worse needs to follow. And make sure his worst moment is near the end. A subplot might be another reason to switch scenes. Maybe the subplot concluding after the climax drags out the end of the story and needs to conclude earlier. The more subplots you have, the more you may realize scenes need to be switched.
Change scenes – Maybe you want something different to happen. Maybe instead of robbing a bank, you want your character to rob a jewelry store. Maybe your character’s friend Jan as a side character is too boring and Tabitha would be much more interesting. Maybe the stakes are too low and you need to jack things up.
Don’t get too bogged down with editing. Chances are after you get feedback on your novel in step four, you may have more rewriting to do. Simply read through your story and fix the things that stand out the most.
I spend more time on my second draft than I do any other draft. I want to make sure I have all the story elements right before I let beta readers or developmental editors read it. You might be different in that your first draft took longer. Either way, it is a good idea to do a first and second draft before you let anyone read your novel.
Can you think of another reason why you might want to do a second draft of your novel before letting anyone read it? Can you think of other elements you may have to rewrite in a second draft? I’d love to hear from you.