2022/06/27 - 3 Things I Learned During My Novel’s Second Draft Revision

Exactly 2 months after starting to revise the first draft of my weird fantasy novel, The Higher Law, the second draft has phased into being from my brain-zone to the page-zone. Again, I wanted to share my thoughts on what became my second draft process.

1. Don’t sweat how long it takes to finish drafts.

Some online articles claim that first draft should take X amount of time, then revision should take Y amount of time. Take that advice with a grain of salt. Timetables vary wildly depending on your life and writing process. For example: it took me almost two years to finish the first draft of my novel. That’s an astounding 143 words per day! The slowest drafting speed ever!

Second draft? Took me two months. Boom, done. To the day, no less. I literally finished today. The final word count grew from 95,500 to about 101,000 due to me fleshing out descriptions and adding plot points information I hadn’t included the first time around. I had no idea the second draft was going to go so quickly. A lot of the advice I had read/heard suggested that it would take significantly longer.

I assume the third draft (editing, word choice, phrasing, clarity, detail consistency, etc.) will blaze by even faster because I have read student papers for a living for over ten years and have gotten extremely fast about it. I also assume I’ll lose a bit of the wordcount as that is almost always what happens. If you are an aspiring writer: learn and use the Paramedic Method! It works!

2. Fixing plot holes was easier than I thought.

This is probably because, unlike every other aspect of my life, I planned this novel out pretty well. Brandon Sanderson calls this being an architect (his lectures on writing on Youtube are great, btw). I’ve always called it being an outliner. It doesn’t matter what you call it.

Now, I did wind up creating plenty of plot holes as the first draft unfolded. I had a few major realizations which changed the direction of the overarching story and plot quite a bit, especially toward the last six chapters during the climax and resolution. Since these changes mostly involved who my characters were and what they wanted (leaving the world and plot relatively unchanged), fixing plot holes or character inconsistencies typically consisted of changing the content of dialog or small character mannerisms.

So, I didn’t wind up making huge, sweeping changes that affected several chapters. The most I had to rewrite from scratch was a few pages at a time. This helped speed things along and was really nice because I’m not a huge fan of content revision. I’m more about the drafting and final editing phases, personally.

3. I discovered several new ideas that enhanced what I already had.

You ever watch a movie a second time and go “OHHHHH!” and your mind gets blown because you’re noticing all the foreshadowing that you didn’t catch the first time because you didn’t know any of it was important? Well, turns out that’s what happened to me during revision, except I was having new ideas for foreshadowing and twists that I hadn’t even considered during the first draft.

This was super fun for me because I was able to see what my story could become rather than the rigidly adhere to the original idea I thought it was going to be.

Ok, I don’t want to ramble on forever, but hopefully some of what I’ve learned might be helpful to you. Now I’m sending my drafts off to my wonderfully patient beta readers to get their impressions and feedback on whatever they happen to notice. After that, third draft for polish. Then, I will begin pestering agents and maybe even editors.

I will also begin working on the next novel idea…