The Journey from First to Second Draft

second draft
I’m writing the first draft of the second and third chapters of my novel ‘The Vanishing’ (using my beloved Scrivener, of course) and it has occurred to me to review what I have written yesterday and the morning that has just past. As I read over my work I fix up mistakes, spelling, grammar, bizarre sounding sentences and it has occurred to me that I am actually enjoying the process. Normally, I hate reviewing my work. I find it tedious and long to be able to create something new, new worlds characters and stories.

Up to now I have followed the advice given by many other writers to write the first draft quickly. Get it done ASAP then leave it. Allow it to settle. Come back to it with fresh eyes then start the second draft. Once I do this though I find it hard to get back into the story. The characters don’t speak to me as they once did. The world feels a little alien. It all feel too different and this causes me to fall into laziness where I do nothing or disguise creating a new story by re-writing the first draft and calling it my second draft. Really all I’m doing is writing a new novel that resembles what I wrote in the first draft. It’s a mutated version of my original and the original took a some work to produce.

A really good post which I read this morning found here (The good and bad of writing)got me thinking about my own writing process. Should I review the last days work lowering my daily word count accordingly or just write the first draft and churn through it later once I’ve finished my 80,000+ words. As I said before, I haven’t completed any college or University education on writing so don’t know what the academic thinking is on the subject, only what I have gleaned from other writers.

I feel it’s now time to experiment with the way I do things, change it up a little.

What do others do, how do you move from first to second draft?


  1. Honestly, I put my draft in the draw and don’t look at it for about three weeks. I find that time helps for me to re-formulate ideas. It’s amazing when you go back a fresh and look at your work again


  2. I always do a first reread and review shortly after I’ve finished writing, often only a few hours later. First, to correct all those nasty spelling and grammar mistakes, incomplete and entirely incomprehensive sentences etc., and second because only then the (often weirdly twisted) thought process that I followed while writing is still fresh, and I can control if any of it reflects in the words and sentences on my monitor that is at least somewhat sensible.
    After that, I need some time and distance, at least a few weeks. It’s usually still far from being ready for betaing, but like so many others I need fresh eyes and a fresh mind for the second draft, to find plotholes, incosistencies and everything else I messed up.
    BTW, I don’t believe there’s a universal academically approved method for the perfect writing process. Thank god there isn’t.


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