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Think About Your Second Draft This Way, Not That Way

Today’s writing Definition of the Week, as posted on Innovative Editing’s Facebook page, applies to “Second Draft.” Since that two-word concept runs the serious risk of looking nothing short of obvious – potentially prompting you to ignore this whole post – I’m going to skip any lead-in or build-up and go right to the definition itself:

Second Draft

This might seem like a really obvious definition, but bear with me for a minute or two. Your second draft is what you have on your hands after you’ve completed editing your first draft.

Duh! Right?

Well, yes and no. Yes, the definition of a second draft is pretty straightforward. But that doesn’t mean that second drafts themselves are so easy to analyze – which is why we’re going to explore them in depth this week.

A quick moment of clarification here: While a second draft is definitely the manuscript you have on your hands after you’re done editing the first draft, you can still accurately state that you’re working on the second draft during the first-draft revision phase.

In other words, the second you start looking over your completed first draft, you’re dealing with the second-draft editing process.

If that’s confusing, I sincerely apologize. However, I did warn you this particular definition wasn’t quite so clear-cut as it first appears.

That’s why we’re going to use the usual three blog posts to cover this concept. On Thursday, we’ll get into how to go about editing your last round of revisions. And for Friday, we’ll make sure to address an encouraging reality about them.

But for now, let’s simply address what a second draft is and what it isn’t.

To do that, imagine you’re sitting at your computer, ready to open up your manuscript for the first time since completing that first round of writing. Knowing very well that this is another huge step in the publishing process, you’re excited. You’re raring to go, in fact!

Which is wonderful. Here’s wishing you the absolute best on this new chapter of your novel-writing journey!

And (not “but” or “however” or “nevertheless.” And) here are some important things to keep in mind before you officially open that document and lay eyes on your manuscript – all of which, incidentally, apply just as easily to non-fiction as novels.

A second draft Is a draft. It’s not a ready-to-go copy when you start editing it, and it still won’t be by the time you’re done. It will simply be a somewhat cleaned-up copy of the original manuscript you finished up however long ago. So it’s automatically an acknowledgement that the novelist or novelist-in-the-making (or non-fiction writer) isn’t done yet.

A second draft Is an opportunity. It’s a challenge. Can you best your previous efforts? Can you add in more of the missing pieces to complete the puzzle you began when you set about writing that first draft? I think you can. And if you care about the integrity of your story, then you know you want to tackle it too.

A second draft Is Not a call for perfection. Therefore, don’t stress out about spelling and grammar errors. If you find ‘em, fix ‘em. But otherwise, keep moving forward. Likewise, don’t worry about making everything perfect. Perfection isn’t your goal during this editorial phase. (Actually, perfection should never be your goal, since it’s completely unattainable.) Your goal should simply be to identify problems and fix what you can.

Again, we’re going to cover some second-draft editing tips on Thursday and Friday, so make sure to tune back into Innovative Editing – either on Facebook or right here on its blog – as the week goes on!

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