author, Beholden to None, books, characters, college, editing, english, fiction, inspiration, literature, nonsense, novel, novella, novels, outline, reading, setting, story telling, Working Drafts, Writing
I’ve mentioned how much time has gone into editing my novella, Beholden to None, since I finished the first draft years ago. I finished the second draft on December 31st by calling it quits two chapters before the end. You might wonder how that could be considered finished by any means, but it’s done. I have the summaries of those chapters written in my notebook, and the details could change by the time I’ve edited the rest. So I went back to the beginning and began the third draft.
I finished editing the first chapter within one night and even got started on the second one. This made me realize the major difference between the second and third drafts: editing what happens and how it happens.
What happens is the plot. The sequence of events that makes up the backbone for the whole thing. A lot of things didn’t make sense in the first draft (see this post for some examples), so the second draft was a total rewrite. That whole process felt surreal; the first draft was like a dream of things that never happened.
In the third draft, I get to focus on how it happened. All the details I left out so I could progress in the story (namely setting details, much of the foreshadowing and symbolism, and internal moments) are finally getting the attention they deserve. I now have the time to weave a mood, create vivid images, and delve into my characters.
That’s not to say I won’t be changing some of the events around in the third draft, but most of my attention will be on the finer points. I’m especially excited about going into each character.
Since I wrote in third person (shifting to a different character in almost every chapter), I have the opportunity to write that part of the story in their words. Rather than just control each character’s thoughts and actions, I get to immerse myself in that person and actually be them for a short time. I like to think of it like an actor getting to know their character before performing.
How does everyone else feel about the editing process?