After the puppy love excitement of the first draft, the pleasures of the second draft are many. Although each writer faces different challenges at this stage, the great thing is you already have a story you can play with.
So here are the good things about rewriting at this stage:
1) It’s still fun. Whether you’re working alone or to a producer, the material still feels fresh, your energy for the project is high and you (hopefully) haven’t lost sight of the wood for the trees yet. It’s all still to play for.
2) There’s new stuff to be found. While some scenes may need trimming, other characters or storylines will need expanding so opening the way for new scenes and fresh discoveries about how characters behave and feel.
3) Research can help you now. While the first draft is often a lone flight of the imagination, now you can step back and take your time to flesh out the realities of the world that you’ve created. Read around your subject, call up experts and ask their advice, you need more fuel for the fire so look outside for inspiration as you define your hero’s journey.
4) Don’t lose heart. The first set of notes may be extensive but that’s to be expected. Use your reader(s) to move forward. Mine their brains for where to go next with the script and listen to their criticisms and questions with care. Alongside this…
5) Follow your instinct. If you know you missed a trick on that first draft, put it right now. If there are characters you can go deeper with, then follow them to find out how the story unfolds. Keep your plot organic not contrived. But –
6) Keep your structure in mind. Creating a step outline of your first draft and updating it before/as you rewrite the next draft will help you see the shape you’re creating and work out where those new scenes fit in the overall pattern of the story. It also helps you follow the thread of each character’s journey so you can see where they’re heading.
7) Give yourself a deadline. If you don’t have an outside deadline from a company, create your own. Line up new readers – or ask your old faithfuls to expect the new draft by a certain date – or find a competition or scheme to enter so the work doesn’t stretch on into infinity.
Believe in your story and enjoy the fact you can still work on it to get things right. You only get one shot, so make sure your aim is true…
How do you create your second draft? Any thoughts welcome! You can leave a comment below or tweet me @emlin32 on Twitter.