First Draft’s & Second Draft’s

Qwerty_Antique_by_somadjinn, via DeviantArt

I heard someone say recently that a novelist’s First Draft is written for himself, while the Second Draft is written for the reader. I hadn’t thought about it before, especially with this particular light on it. But, it’s so very true.

When the Muse strikes and a writer sits with either pen and paper, typewriter or computer, the words that flow are not necessarily his or her best. Some of it might be, or perhaps, for those gifted writers, most of it might be perfect, but for most writers what comes out will still need tweaking.

It’s the raw words in this First Draft that comes straight from that secret well-spring of Story. It’s the voice of the character, and of the scene. It is the raw plot without investigation or analysis. It is Story in its purest form, straight from the mind to the paper, pulled along to the end by the force of the voices and the desire of the writer to complete the novel, to find out what happens in the end.

Block_by_senkomoon via DeviantArt

The Second Draft is often described, depending on one’s temperament and tenacity, as, the dreaded, the painful, and even sometimes as the unneccessary. It is the essential step which I personally belief is the buff and shine. Some writers may need more than this second draft, some may require up to four drafts before they deem their work ready for their readers. Some writers may describe this process as fun, and others may cringe and wail beneath the burden of such torture.

In this second run-through, the writer will answer questions. Does this scene make sense? Is this the way the character would really react? The thing to be aware of is a character will develop herself through the writing of the manuscript. By the end of the book, the writer will have learned so much about her inner conflicts, her issues, her dreams and her personality. With this knowledge he can decide if scenes and chapters follow the natural progression of this character.

More importantly, a writer will want to ensure that he is getting across the correct message. Have I said this clearly enough? Will the reader understand it? Or will she be annoyed because I’ve described too much?

It’s all about engendering a trust relationship with the reader. When I read I am placing my time in the hands of the writer, I don’t appreciate my time being wasted and neither will my readers. This is why that second edit is so incredibly important. It is the difference between writing for oneself and writing for a reader…


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Carl Purdon says:

    I stop counting drafts somewhere around number six … and just keep calling it the 6th draft. Your post captures the process quite well, I think. Good job. Your site is impressive.


    1. Tee G Ayer says:

      Thank you Carl. Every book is different though, things like timelines and world-building can certainly complicate things in a manuscript but I firmly believe that first draft is the bed of seedlings you plant, while the second and other (*grin) drafts are the watering, weeding and special care… Thanks for stopping by.. 🙂


  2. Totally. Writing is Re-writing. Not a lot of people understand that.
    A lot of writers get upset with me when I tell them their screenplay or writing needs improvement. I stop reading if I find the 10th spelling or grammar error and I’m only on page 5.

    People don’t realize that sometimes your fingers move faster than your brain. This leaves a large room for error.

    Dont’ alienate your readers with your first draft!

    Awesome post!


    1. Tee G Ayer says:

      Thanks for your comment 🙂
      It’s such a learning experience too. I think every writer gets better with each book too, as long as they pay attention, because we all have our idiosyncracies 🙂


  3. Ooooh, good post Tee!

    I agree with you. The 1st draft is always the Writer’s copy, although our critters will often read this version. The drafts thereafter are all about fine tuning. This is the point where you have to let go of your serious emotional attachement to the 1st draft, and look at the story in a very critical light.

    Always remember though… the first draft will always be yours. Always. No one can ever take that away from the writer. But with each re-write – it becomes a lot more palatable for the reader. A wonderful process… even if it is a little deadly for our creative minds.


    1. Tee G Ayer says:

      Agreed LKH!
      Hope Nano and Bumpkin play nice 🙂


  4. Great post! I’ve never thought about it like that before, but you are SO right! And I like what LKH said about the first draft being yours. I always keep my first draft just the way it is, even if I never read it again. There’s something sweet about the original 🙂


    1. Tee G Ayer says:

      Hey Melissa 🙂
      I agree- that original is a keeper, although there were a few cringe moments when I realised what had been sent off to my Beta’s. They loved the novel anyway so yes -sigh of relief was in order…


  5. J.C says:

    Great post! and totally true.


    1. Tee G Ayer says:

      Thanks JC 🙂
      One of the reasons I try to turn my ever present internal editor off. Need to write everything down before it all disappears… 🙂


  6. last_lines says:

    Awesome post my pal!
    …and let me just preface that by saying: “Welcome back to blogging! Your posts have been missed!”
    Thank you muchly for the ping back too.
    You rock! 🙂
    Really enjoyed this post as I know it hits close to home for both of us over the last few months. Yes that second draft is so important because that is all about the MS turning into a book like the metamorphosis of a beautiful butterfly.
    I love my first drafts for the magical quality as I am bound by a silken cord from Muse to my imagination to the spill of words on a blank white page!
    The perfectionist in me loves the second draft because I start perfecting those first flights of inspiration into a stronger story that is on its first legs to being a book.
    Great post hun!
    Kudos!! 😉


    1. Tee G Ayer says:

      Thanks Kim!
      It was on my mind and I had to get it out. I’m glad that readers are finding it beneficial.
      Xx Tee


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