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Courtney’s Work-in-Progress Update

Courtney Cantrell shares her work in progress

Courtney Cantrell shares her work in progress

Okay, so, ummm…I didn’t keep you as posted on my work-in-progress as I promised I would. I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT!!!!! about six weeks ago. I gave a printed copy to my mom, who is a most excellent beta reader, and she called me yesterday to tell me she finished reading and is ready for me to write the second draft so she can read it again. Did I mention she’s a most excellent beta reader?

Looking back at my last update, I realize I left you hanging a little, Gentle Readers. Therefore, to set your minds at ease (’cause I just know this has been keeping you up nights), I shall tell you that I did, in fact, figure out why Rebekah slapped Daniel, and it was connected to a mighty spiffy plot twist, I daresay. But I don’t want you to rest too easy, so I won’t reveal further details now. Cue evil laughter.

Behold! The game is afoot, and The Second Draft loometh ahead, apparently precipitous but in reality more easily ascendable than its predecessor. In this, my most excellent beta reader = Mom = my climbing buddy, having scouted ahead and come back to me with a report of the obstacles and pitfalls I shall face. And so, knowing that forewarned is forearmed, I heft my trusty tools (i.e. Everything I Have Learned And Am Learning About Writing) and plunge ahead, further up and further in, as the Lewisan (Louisan?  C. S. Lewis said it, anyway) saying goes.

Metaphors aside, what follows is my game plan for second drafts.

From First Draft to Second Draft

1. I look through the manuscript and read comments my beta reader has written for me.

2. As I peruse, I add my own comments and editorial marks. I make special note of things the beta reader points out that I haven’t thought of. These things mostly involve holes in the plot or potential directions of character development that I didn’t taken into account. Forest-for-the-trees stuff.

3. When I’m satisfied that the manuscript is as marked-up as it’s gonna get at this stage, I open the original document on my computer and save it in a folder entitled Draft 2. Now I can start working with the document but still preserve the first draft in its original form. I suppose many writers might consider this a superfluous step, but I like to be able to compare drafts and measure them against each other. If nothing else, this shows me that I’m making progress. And “you can’t see where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” I don’t know who said that, but I find it’s a truth of life in general and a truth of my writing life in particular.

4. Now comes the fun part, the part my fingers have been itching to get to since before I even finished the first draft! This is the part where I get to start editing the manuscript and building my second draft. I know some writers advocate starting with blank pages and re-writing the entire thing at this point. That’s great for them, but I have absolutely no desire or motivation for that much work. Call me a lazy bum, but there you have it. My first draft is my block of marble, in which I’ve carved a recognizable shape. Now is not the time for discarding and starting afresh on a whole new chunk of rock. Now is the time for more carving.

5. I guess I can’t help it with the metaphors.

6. Anyway. I love this stage of the process, because I’m one of those weird people who think editing is fun. As I’ve mentioned before, I love a good challenge–and I can think of few more challenging endeavors than to edit my own work into something good and readable. It’s a challenge to creativity, to objectivity (about myself), and to humility. Increasing these traits within myself makes me a better person. So I’m not just carving away at a metaphorical block of marble…I’m also carving away at me and hopefully letting myself be formed into something more recognizably human.

7. But this is supposed to be about writing second drafts, not about self-improvement.

8. Or is it?

9. I don’t know how long I’ll work on the manuscript before I can declare the second draft finished. On the day that I finished the first draft, I didn’t know I was going to finish until I joined one particular paragraph to the next and YATTA! Draft 1 was complete! That’s how it goes: I don’t know I’m finishing until I finish. It’s always a surprise–which appeals muchly to my sense of whimsy. When something makes me happy like that, I say it “swings my verge”–but the origin of that phrase is another story and shall be told another time.

10. I’ll keep you posted!

Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

2 Responses to “Courtney’s Work-in-Progress Update”

  1. Bryce says:

    Congratulations on finishing your first draft! I enjoy reading your weekly post. It is fresh and insightful. Thanks for your time and energy.