Chill Out: Second-Draft Editing Tips You Can Take


There’s something about the power of the pen. Or, in my case, the power of the keyboard, with my fingers clacking against the A. Then the N. Right before I hit the D.

Spacebar, then I and T.

Spacebar again: H, I, T.

Next word: H, E, R.

Period.

Typing that description out took time, of course. But when I’m in the middle of writing an actual story instead of describing writing a story… my fingers can clack out I-don’t-know-how-many words per minute.

I think it’s a lot. Not that I care any further than the fact that each new word leads me to a new one. Then a new one. And another new one, each adding to a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter.

An entire manuscript.

It’s all a big mystery until that point, and I get to follow the fantastic clues to figure it out.

Once I have figured it out, then the whole game changes, this time to a puzzle. A puzzle that prompts me to consider each established piece to make sure they fit where I put them.

That part – the editing a first draft or editing a second draft or editing any draft phase – can be just as thrilling when handled correctly.

At least in my book.

But even if you disagree with me on that, you’re in luck. There are second-draft editing tips you can take to lighten the load.

Pace and reward yourself appropriately.

There are things I love about every part of putting a story together into a polished publishable piece. But I also know that some people find the first-draft writing process frustrating, while others hate the draft editing part with the passion of a thousand suns.

If you’re in the latter category, don’t feel like you have to tackle your second draft (or any draft) all at once. Take a segment a day or a chapter a week. Turn it into a game. You’ve got to do it if you want to produce a worthwhile manuscript, so make it as painless as possible.

I can’t promise you that it’s going to be all daisies and roses the whole way through. But it also doesn’t have to be nearly so bad as you think.

As mentioned in Tuesday’s writing Definition, one of the best second-draft editing tips I can give is this reminder: You’ve done it all before.

This isn't your first rodeo. You know what you're doing.

Oh, you’ll be noticing different aspects and issues about it as you go along this time. Perhaps stuff like:

  • Mishandled exposition

  • Inappropriately displayed biases

  • Style that needs to be strengthened

  • Unclear tones

  • Too much showing instead of telling (or vice versa).

But, overall, editing a second draft is very much like editing a first draft. You start from the beginning and read through until you get to the end, fixing what you find to fix as you go along.

One of the second-best second-draft editing tips I can give you is to restate the Writing Challenge up above… Don’t look at it as a single big project. Break it up into smaller sections that are more easily handled.

If you find that you breeze right through one, maybe move on to the next right away.

If you find that another segment takes longer, break it up into better-sized bites.

In short, be reasonable with yourself. Be reasonable and reward yourself appropriately, whether it’s through tasty snacks, fun little joy rides, going out with friends… or whatever else floats your boat.

The more you do, the better it’ll be.

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