Different Drafts, Different Worlds

I’m a few weeks into the second draft of my novel and it’s tough going. The past week was entirely devoted to draft 2 of chapter 8. It’s a big, complex chapter that introduces two important characters and lots of concepts about the story world. And it took me the whole week…and lots of tea and lots of chocolate…to get it sorta kinda right. But it’s at a good place and I’m on to the next chapter now.

I love the writing process itself and find it fascinating how it is so different for every writer and for every different project. The successive drafts of this particular book have each been entirely different worlds and it’s been quite an adventure learning to navigate them.

The zero draft was an earthbound cloud, free-floating without shape or destination. I researched and did free writing and character ‘interviews’, dreaming the story into being. It was nebulous and vast.

The first draft was an adrenaline-charged scramble across a tight rope strung over a gorge. It was all about getting to the finish line without looking down. It was nerve-wracking and tense.

I’m now learning that the second draft is going to be a methodic chisel into the bedrock of the story. Plot holes are being repaired. Hidden meanings discovered. It’s the first time I’ve fretted about the writing. Not too much, that will come later, but now that I’m not just unwinding the story as fast as I can, I need the words to begin to do their job. They need to start drifting toward impact and beauty. It is slow and deliberate.

There will be many, many more drafts to come and I’m excited to see what unique magic each of them will hold.

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.” -Arthur Plotnik

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