author, creative writing, writing

Novel Writing: Finishing The Second Draft

Morning storytellers and world changers! I hope you have all had a good week.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished the second draft of my novel, and I thought that this week I would share some thoughts from that experience. I’d love to hear what stage you are at in your creative journey, so please so pop a comment at the end of the post to let me know or contact me at any time!

So, finishing the second draft! I am glad to say that I did it within my set target date.  Here are some thoughts, ideas and things I learnt upon finishing it.

1. The second draft feels just as unpolished as the first
Though I knew my novel would, and does, need many edits, I think I thought things would be at least a little more polished after the second draft. I was wrong. For me, the second draft was mostly piecing together all the scenes from the first draft. I found that so much had changed as I wrote the last half of the story, that this edit was mostly me adapting the first half to fit with what had come later. That’s what you get for letting your characters take control!

2. There’s more ‘fixing’ than ‘layering’
Again, I had a false expectation of the second draft. I thought I would simply be adding to detail, layering the story to give it more depth. And while I did add to some scenes, mostly I fixed issues that had cropped up along the course of the first draft, when I was still fleshing out the main story line. This is no bad thing. These fixes were essential, and some layers DID come, but I hope that more ‘layering’ will happen in the third draft.

3. It’s not as exciting as finishing the first draft
This might be different for everyone, but I found that I wasn’t jumping for joy in the same way as when I finished the first draft. I was still pleased of course, and proud, but I guess there is just something about that all important first draft feeling that is hard to beat.

4. It fills you with self doubt
Self doubt, self doubt, self doubt. A huge issue for all creatives. I finished my second draft with mixed emotions. The part of me that loves the story battling the part of me that worries it’s no good. However, I have spoken passionately about how writers should be kind to themselves, and I am an optimist. So, I pack away my self pity and move positively forward in the hope that actually, this novel could be something special.

5. It’s another step forward
The best part about finishing the second draft was knowing that I had taken another step forward. Perhaps this is just the second step in a very, very long journey. But forward is always something to be proud of, and it is this thought that will carry me through to finishing the third step.
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Perhaps your feelings on second drafts are different to mine? Perhaps you aren’t there yet? Either way, please do comment your thoughts below. It is always a pleasure to hear from you.

Until then,
Keep writing,

24 thoughts on “Novel Writing: Finishing The Second Draft”

  1. Congratulations on the second draft!
    As for my progress, I am not sure how to count it, but if it was by how many time I went through the self-proofreading -> think about it -> edit, then I am probably at fourth, maybe fifth draft. Takes a bit more effort as I am replacing many placeholder names (for creatures and characters alike) for final (hopefully) ones as well as dealing with scenes that need more depth or suspense (some are a bit predictable) or showing some detail about how certain characters think about each other – something I did poor job in a few times.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Everything you said is so true. I’m currently on my second draft and I have so much self doubt. And like you I thought it would be a smoother process(i.e. layering) but it isn’t. Congrats on your second draft and great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on the second draft! I’m still only on the first draft for my current short story, but because those drafts are always extremely vague in things like theme and character wants (like, as they say, scaffolding), the second draft does feel like layering in my case as I add more scenes, lengthening them, etc. It is a step forward, but I’ve found that my works don’t start taking proper shape until the 3rd or 4th draft – maybe even more depending on the genre and idea!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Kat! Yes, completely there is a lot of vagueness in my first draft which I’ve been able to iron out in my second. The third will be an important step forward in terms of detail I think. Best of luck with your writing x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It must be a relief to get to the end of draft 2, even if it means more work!
    I found your process interesting (I tend to redraft sections of redrafts before waiting until the end of a whole novel and going through it systematically, so my process is still a little messy – each to their own!).
    Do you think knowing that you needed to change so much of draft 1, that you would be happy with an even rougher draft 1 next time around?
    I think that’s where the writing process is leading me – if I ever finish the current WIP!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Marie! Yes, we all have different processes. My process for draft one was extremely messy, so for draft 2 I really just wanted some order. I’m going for the same on the next edit. I’m actually quite excited that my story is (almost) completely structured now. I just need to polish it and layer it from here.
      Best of luck with your WIP ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think you nailed exactly what a second draft is all about, M. Congrats on getting there and for turning any negative emotions into something positive. There will be many more drafts and lots more doubt, but if you keep working through each draft like you did your first and second, you’ll get there 😊. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “I found that so much had changed as I wrote the last half of the story, that this edit was mostly me adapting the first half to fit with what had come later.” – I have a feeling that this is going to be what I’ll needed to do, aswell!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ve been there many times. By nature I write s-l-o-w-l-y, almost always editing my previous day’s work before tackling the new. MOST times my first draft is pretty tight, so the second (and following) isn’t too much of a struggle. But I’m fortunate to turn out a book per year (65-75,000 words range) with my work habits. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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