First Draft is a time to swim back up to the surface and take a breather. The hard yards are done, the plot is written, the characters have been committed to their acts. Great. Pat yourself on the back, have a well-earned whisky, do some art or whatever takes your fancy, and try to forget everything.
Forgetting is hard, because you’ve been spending so much time on it, your neurons are geared toward figuring things out. And they’ll do that. What if so-and-so does such-and-such? What if I muck about with that bit in the middle and make it more comical? What if I change the whole damn thing… hold on. That’s getting out of hand and, for what it’s worth, while the ideas might have merit, you’re too close. Write those ideas down, quickly, then get back to your whiskey.
Let it simmer away. Don’t look at it. Don’t pick at it. Leave it alone. Once you’ve managed to distract yourself – it might take a week, it might take a year, that’s on you – make a coffee and sit down in a quiet space. It’s Second Draft time, time to dive right back down again into the depths with fresh eyes. And that’s the key – fresh eyes.
All of those idea you had are still relevant, only now, without the feverish brain-cells jumping about every which way, you can properly test them, one by one. No, it’s not a good idea to make so-and-so do such-and-such, because that would completely break continuity. Yes, it would help to lighten the mood by making the middle bit more comical, and we could even see more from our normally serious characters. Rewriting the whole damn thing? What was I thinking?
Thankfully for you, me, and Tedrick, after a LOT of unintentional distractions from work, family and the world at large, the Second Draft of Tedrick Gritswell Gets Crabby has been completed. I’ve printed out the whole shebam, I’ve got my red-pen in hand and I’m not afraid to use it. It’s the final stretch, folks and, barring any asteroid hitting the planet between now and July, I don’t see any reason to stop.
I’ve got the cover which, admittedly, needs more tweaking, especially on the seagrass. I’ve got the manuscript. I’ve got rhythm and I’ve got music. What more do I need? Time. Uninterrupted time. And coffee. Lots of that. But, apart from coffee and time, what’s going to stop Tedrick’s next book? Nothing. Watch this space.