06 November 2013

Second Draft Woes

It's that time again! The first Wednesday of every month is the Insecure Writer's Support Group day. Check out Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog to learn more!

First Wed of Every Month

There’s plenty for me to be insecure about lately. I’m insecure about my NaNo book, but I think Jordan pretty much covered that on Monday. So I’m aware of what isn’t working, and I’m just trying to push through with it, hoping that my narrator grows a backbone.

What I’m really insecure about is diving in to the second draft of my newly finished novel. For several reasons. The first of which is that editing is scary! It’s so different from writing a first draft. The first draft is fun; it’s passionate. It’s all about words flying onto the page and not worrying about how perfect they are. Well, editing is more about hard work. It’s about getting those words to be perfect. I don’t even know if that’s possible. In poetry, people say that the work is never really done. A poet can even look at a piece they’ve published and think of ways to make it better. Is the same true for fiction? There’s a lot more to work with, so you’d think that every time you looked at one page you’d find a word or two to change. So when does it end?

I’m also nervous because I really want people to read my story, and I’ve had some people express interest in it, but I’m afraid to give it to them. I don’t know if I should wait until I have a second draft. But then I think, wouldn’t it be easier to combine my own edits with whatever critiques they have, rather than doing two revisions? But there are some portions that I know need to be fixed. There are some parts that embarrass me and I don’t want anyone to read yet. I know Chapter Eight needs a complete overhaul. The setting doesn’t feel developed enough. I’m still uncomfortable with the sex scene. And some of my potential readers are gay men, so I have this fear in the back of my mind that they’re going to tell me how wrong every single aspect is, not just with the sex scene, but with how the characters act and well, everything!

So I’m not sure what to do. Give my first draft out or fix everything that I know is wrong with it first? 

But I’m just dying to get some readers who aren’t my boyfriend who just says everything is wonderful. I’m having these fantasies of going into work and having someone come up to me and say, “I just finished Chapter Twelve and I hate you,” or “Oh my God…that fight scene…I was in tears!” I want it so bad. But what if I don’t get that? What if everyone hates it? Or thinks I’m some kind of weird pervert for coming up with it in the first place? 

I don't know what to do but I guess this is just the sort of thing I'll have to deal with when I actually publish it. Some people are going to love it, some will hate it. Some people will get what I was trying to say, others will think it's sick and wrong. I'm still hesitant to give it out even though I think for the most part it's a good story, just with a few hiccups. But I also feel I should give it out now while people are still interested, before they forget all about it and don't care anymore.

What do you think? Should I give out my first draft or edit first? Anyone else going through the second draft woes? 


  1. I'm co-hosting IWSG this month. Nice to meet you.

    I understand your fears. Putting yourself out there to others can be terrifying! Revision isn't easy, but that is where the magic happens. Realistically, you'll probably revise a few times. I say, revise twice on your own, then put it out there for others. In between revisions, focus on craft by rereading some books on plot, dialogue, character development and try to implement what you've learned in the next draft.

    Good luck and don't be afraid to share your work.

  2. Hey Sarah, I would suggestion you clean up some obvious stuff before giving it over to others. I agree with you, the free flowing anything goes nature of first drafts are so much fun in comparison to the meticulousness (new word) of editing. The key is finding an editing process that inserts some fun back into the process. For me, I love list, so I make a list of everything that needs to be done first and then get a little thrill from crossing things off the list. Your story sounds intriguing. Good luck.

  3. I seldom send off a first draft. I like to let it set a while, then go through it and then send it off to my group. My first drafts are too ragged.

  4. I agree with the other sentiments. I sent out my first draft because I had no idea how to rewrite it. However, I bet I would have figured something out if I'd let it stew for a couple months. Give it some time; if you're still lost, you can send it to beta.

  5. My thoughts are that I prefer to do the second edits alone - and then send my best (up to that point) work out to the readers.

    No matter what you do... Good Luck :)

  6. Because I don't plan, my first and second drafts are for my eyes only. In fact, I only give my work to people when I've edited and re-written and I think it's perfect. Then they can tear it to bits but by then I don't care because I love it. It's only recently I've got the hang of beta readers etc - before my blog, I'd happily send mss out to publishers without anyone else's input. Actually... I still would!

    Good luck with the second round :-)

  7. Well, I constantly edit my work before I show it to anyone.


  8. This may sound awful and I don't mean it to, but I've come to learn that there are many types of readers - some casual, some critical. And I tend to let my casual readers be my alphas and those who will dissect every last sentence be my betas. This helps spot the obvious problems first and the tiny ones become more noticeable whiling editing the next draft. Do share your story with others, especially those who are willing to hel. I just might have to write a post about this process. :)