A ramble about the drafting process: first to second draft

I can't tell if this is a pun or not...
I just finished the first draft of my latest novel (a young adult fantasy adventure - watch this space!) and feel that I'm still learning a great deal about the most efficient process (for me), of drafting, redrafting and polishing.

So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts, insights and advice, as writing various drafts seems to be one of the most popular topics on this blog.

So, here is the process I go through with different drafts, as of January 2013:

1. First I do a ton of planning. If this is your first time to this blog, this may be news to you (in which case you might want to read about my novel writing roadmap), if not, then you've probably gathered this by now.

So by the time I start my first draft, I've already got a great deal of information about my plot, structure, scenes and characters, including rough stage directions and dialogue outlines.

2. Bang out the first draft.

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I approach this with a stubborn singlemindedness to just get the darn thing out. I used to take what I like to call the 'blanket-stitch' approach, where I would write a few paragraphs or pages, then back up a bit, keep going beyond where I'd got to, back up a bit, etc. But not anymore.

Now I know that as I reach different stages of the book I'll find holes that will need tweaking, unpicking, overlaying and shifting later, so there's simply no point in spending time on elegant sentence level stuff. The risk that the whole page might be torn out later is too high - and there aren't enough hours in the day to waste any of them.

You can have a donut if you like. Whatever floats your boat.
I also don't get hung up on details about consistency, names or things like that. It's all about ploughing through like a steam train (yes! mixed metaphors are welcome!) and getting the gist of everything down. If I can be bothered I make notes on things that I know I'm going to have to sort out later, but if I'm going to be perfectly honest with you - most of the time I'm too busy furiously typing to have time for that.

3. Once the first draft is completed I do a little dance and have a glass of wine. Then I start thinking about where I need to do more research. I spend a little time thinking about where the most gaping plot holes, inconsistencies and black spots in my knowledge of characters, locations or salient points are. I do research (without the Internet this would be impossible) and allow myself to follow interesting leads that might bring me to more intriguing details to add colour to the story or characters.

4. However, I don't keep doing research until I've got everything pinned down perfectly. As soon as I start to get a little bored of the research and am itching to get to my seond draft, then I do. But this time, instead of hoofing through at 100 miles an hour, I take my time, pause whever I feel like it to look something up, muse over words and sentences for hours on end - and apply my 'blanket-stich' technique.

Once the second draft is finished, it's just a case of polishing until your eyes are bleeding or an agent accepts it. Whichever comes first.

So, that's how I manage the drafting process (for the moment). Apologies this a bit more of a rambly post than I usually do, but hopefully someone will find it useful!

If you liked this article, then you might like to read more of my articles on how to write a novel.