Anatomy of a First Draft.

I finished a first draft.

It’s titled Virtual Insanity and is the sequel to Social Media Central. It took some time to complete as just after starting it, Covid-19 hit. My husband began a short work contract and had to work from home. I had no quiet space to write so the manuscript lay dormant after only several chapters.

Usually I allow three months before I return to a Work In Progress for assessment and to write the next draft. But with the fragmented approach to this draft, I read it and went straight into the second draft.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Now, this isn’t a proper second draft.

I don’t have the hindsight of time to properly assess it, but I have enough insight to fix issues I can spot straight away. For example, the story flows better from Chapter Nine onward due to when quarantine restrictions lifted. Libraries were open again, giving me a place to go to work on it consistently. And it shows.

One noticeable error are two of three paragraphs in different scenes where I quickly run through important plot points from Social Media Central. This is done as a recap for readers who’ve read the first, and as a summary for those who haven’t but need to know certain plot points for the current scene to make sense.

Two of these recaps covered the same points. An easy mistake as the first was written before lock down and forgotten about.

Another issue is word count.

I’m 9000 words short of the count needed to assure this novel is also available as a paperback and not just an ebook. My publisher has strict rules and as the first is available as a physical book, this one should be too.

There are two minor characters I want to expand. This will give me a small portion of the added words. I’ve searched for pictures of a 20-something blonde man and an older woman, and settled on images that are very different to how I saw these characters in my mind. This will inspire me to develop them in ways that make them memorable.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

But some solutions come when you’re not focussing on the problem.

This one came when my husband was stroking my back the other night while I lay on the bed. I realised the villain, Stuart Manning, who originally appears in the first book, doesn’t do anything particularly nasty in the sequel.

I continue to explore his relationship with the main character, Tayler, but unless you’ve read the first, the lack of a scene where this evil-doer shows what he’s capable of, diminishes the reason why he’s there at all. So two chapters need to be added to show Stuart at his wicked best.

I’m really proud of this manuscript.

It was plotted from start to finish and is paced well for a dystopian tale with plenty of action. And while I go back to create this immediate second draft, it will still have the problems of a first.

The instant turn around won’t allow me to see all its issues, but at least I can return to it months down the track and have several problems already ironed out.

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