WRITING A NOVEL? pt. 2 – looking at the first draft

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FEBRUARY 2017

From where we left off last time…

In February, I picked up my manuscript after not looking at it for six months, and decided to start working on it again. I didn’t know what I was doing or what I was going to do different this time, but I was excited to see what direction it was going to lead to.

Printing out my manuscript really helped me with the editing. I know it’s not for everyone, but I much prefer to have a physical copy in front of me so I can see it and mark on it. Besides, at this point I didn’t want to actually start writing my second draft, I just wanted to make notes on my first draft so that I could fix it on my laptop later when I do get to writing the second draft. After reading lots of blog and advice posts on how to edit your first draft, this was my plan.

  1. read through the manuscript without doing anything
  2. read through and just make notes about random things that I could pick up on
  3. read through and mark plot holes and add plot lines
  4. read through and make note on pacing
  5. fix up where chapter start and end, add extra chapters, remove unnecessary chapters

 

I could have focused on more than one of these aspects at a time, but because my draft was so short, it didn’t take me long at all to read it. So I thought it would be best to focus all of my attentions just on one aspect that needed fixing.

To start editing, or pretty much rewriting the whole book, I decided to first just reread what I wrote last year without making any notes or touching anything that I had written. Considering it was only 40000 words (125 A4 pages), I read it quickly in a day. It was a somewhat cringey read, but I knew it had the potential to be a great story. There was still that missing something but I knew that once I figured out what that was, I would be able to continue working on it.

During the second read through, I used a purple pen to make notes of small things that I could pick up on. This included dialogue, description, setting the scene, any awkward phrases that I wanted to change or things that I thought I could write better, and anything along these lines. Although this was a very small step in the editing process, I definitely think that it was a good first step in fixing minor things that were wrong.

Thirdly, I focused on the plot of my book, and this was probably the biggest problem with my novel and the main reason why I stopped writing it after the first draft in 2016. There was something missing, and I was hoping that this would come clear during this read through. And guess what? It did! I can’t remember the exact moment that it clicked, but somewhere along the way I was adding a plot line that the story needed, and I’m really happy with how it’s turning out so far. This extra plot line is close to my heart and definitely makes the story a bit more personal – but most of all it has helped me develop my main character a lot more. During this reread I used a pink pen to mark sections where I could talk about this extra plot line, as well as remove specific plot lines that I thought weren’t needed. I also fixed any plot holes, major or minor, so that the story made sense in specific sections.

My fourth read through was to fix the pacing of my novel, and considering that my whole first draft only ended up being 40000 words, this was probably the most difficult and time consuming parts during my read throughs. I used a blue pen this time just to make note on extra dialogue that I could add, extra scenes within chapters and extra chapters all together, when scenes needed expanding on, a different place or chapter to start my novel (including a prologue), and much much much more! After making note on all of this, I felt a lot better about my story and I can’t wait to actually write in all this extra stuff because it will for sure add to the depth of my novel. When I was reading through, I noticed that a lot of my chapters started off with, “over the next few weeks”  or “a couple weeks later” which just meant that everything was moving way too fast. So instead I decided to add extra chapters or scenes that could happen during those few weeks to add to the story and develop the characters.

And lastly, I fixed up my chapters which were all over the place by this point. Because I had added so many extra chapters, moved things around and put some chapters together as one, everything was a big mess and I needed to neaten it up. So with a black texta I marked where new chapters would start and end, and renumbered the old chapters. Originally after the first draft I had twenty nine chapters, but after fixing all this up I now have thirty six chapters plus an epilogue and prologue. And just for a bit of fun and to help me when I begin to work on fixing these chapters, I worked out songs from my play list that would fit with each chapter.

And that is how I STARTED editing my first draft, but I am a long long way from finishing my second draft. I have actually started fixing up the first few chapters, but I will talk about that in the next post (I think I might do them monthly if I write a decent amount during that month).

 

And now to reveal some secrets from my WIP;

 

My second character is…

really pretty, soft, versatile, layered and long:

Melissa is the main characters best friends mum. She is another minor character and only appears a few times (I’ll probably only be giving away minor characters until I run out of them) but she helps out the two main characters a couple of times. She is wealthy and lives in a massive mansion, but has a caring and kind touch to her.

 

My second playlist song is…

Image result for not today imagine dragons

Not Today by Imagine Dragons. I heard this song originally when I watched Me Before You and it had me in tears at the end and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. You think it’s a somewhat upbeat song, but when you listen to the words its puts off a whole different vibe.

 

Be sure to comment down below if you like these blog posts and want to see more. Also add my twitter @RBRgabby for more updates on my WIP.

 

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