February 11, 2021 in Dag

Jumping in for a third time

So 2021 is now well set. In many ways, things haven’t changed much. Covid is still around. Restrictions are still in place. I’m still working from home. But hopefully, there’s some light just around the corner. Vaccination programs are being rolled out around the world. All we can do is hope the vaccine is effective and starts to make a difference, allowing us to get back to some semblance of life as it was.

As 2021 progresses, so I progress with my plans for the year. And a big part of those plans is continuing to work on my novel. As previously mentioned, I achieved the massive step of completing a second draft before the end of last year. I then decided to give myself a break, allowing me to gain some space from the story, to help me see it with fresh eyes. Not as big a break as the one I took after finishing the first draft – which was close to a year and a half. I think that would be giving myself way too much space. This time, I reckon a couple of months is probably sufficient.

At the end of that break, before I began to think about commencing that third draft, I chucked the MS onto the kindle and read it again. This served a couple of purposes. Firstly, it gave me something to read during my end-of-year break. But mainly, it helped give me a sense of where the story was at on a basic readability level, and what to focus on once I began working on that third draft.

And the good news – I feel like it passed. Sure, there were a few spots where I had to pause for a moment because the text didn’t quite click. A few other spots where I felt the drama or the humour or something about the characters wasn’t strong enough. And several breaks in continuity, owing to the restructuring I did during the second draft. But generally, I was pretty pleased with how it felt. A big contrast from a year earlier, when I completed the same activity for the first draft. I couldn’t stop myself groaning in horror at the quality of the prose, and the numerous flaws in the narrative. Given that for me the main purpose of a second draft is to do the heavy lifting of getting the story right, I feel like the process was definitely a success.

So now I’m ready to jump in for a third time. This time, the goal is different. The story is mostly there. Now it’s time to make it shine. Get rid of any of those trifling little mistakes. Extract the most out of every scene. Remove any groan-worthy pieces of prose. Hopefully, by the end, I’ll have something I can be really proud of.

For me, three times is the charm. After that, the process starts to become more like pointless tinkering. But three dives into the story – the first to just blurt it out onto the page, the second to force it into shape, and the third to fine-tune and make it shiny – will always be worthwhile.

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