Week 1 of the Second Draft of the Novel

Last Sunday, I finally got started on the second draft of the novel I wrote last year. Second drafts are complete rewrites for me. In the first draft, I tell myself the story, figure things out, and then completely rewrite it in the second draft, based on what I know. I try to make it into an interesting story for someone other than me. Often this is where the characters come to life and the story finds its voice.

I wrote 6,000 words last week, breaking 1,000 or more words on 4 of 7 days. The last time I had a week in which I wrote more than a 1,000 words/day four times was back in January. That said, I struggled. I think I was trying to find the right voice, and I ended up getting into my head, the way a pitcher can get into a hitter’s head when they think too much at the plate.

I flailed around quite a bit on Wednesday and Thursday and bombed on Friday. But I tried not to let that get me down too much. I took a deep breath, and spent much of Saturday allowing the story to play through the background of my day. Yesterday evening, I sat down to write, and got 1,500 words, and I think I found the right opening. I’m not certain, since I’ve flailed around quite a bit, but it was strong ending to a tough week.

And so, while I wrote 6,000 words, only 1,500 of those words are words that will (for now, anyway) stay in the second draft. This isn’t completely out of the ordinary for me. I tend do this in short stories as well, although not as much. I feel like I have a bit more of a command of that form than novels, but I’m learning as I go.

For week 2, I’d love to get 7,000 words, but I’ll be happy with whatever I get, as long as the story is taking shape, is interesting, and continues to move me.

About Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.