2nd Draft: Focusing the Telescope on…?

So, that first draft is done. The last chapters are off to my critique group. I’m reading and reading and ordering more books and reading, trying to get some more history and psychology into my brain.

I’ll also be cleaning my office–all those piles that have just gotten added to and sort of pushed into neatness the last few months need to be dealt with. I need to get the 1st draft binder on the shelf, start one for the 2nd draft, get all the notes I made while I was writing toward “The End” at least stuck in there for me to contemplate.

And then I’ll get revising.

For me, the 2nd draft is a huge deal, but–at the same time–another pass where so much doesn’t get touched. In my first book, when I looked at my first draft, the thing that jumped out of me was that my hero was way too passive–he was playing sidekick to his sidekick. So the 2nd draft was all about turning that around, putting him in charge, getting him to take the risks and have the failures and figure out the next thing to do–in other words, actually turn him into a hero.

Yes, of course, I revised smaller things to–I worked big-time on his goals, I’m sure, and played with setting and dialogue as well. But the revision had a main focus–that “thing” I had to change before I could really move on. Again.

For Caro’s story, I’ve got two biggies. The one I’ve talked about before–letting go of the 2nd plotline (and stashing it somewhere safe to write into another book) and bringing the storyline I’m choosing now to the forefront. The second thing I have to do is really figure out my antagonist–Caro’s mom. I have to get much closer to who she is and what she does–both in terms of making things really hard for Caro and in terms of all the hours of the day that she isn’t on the page. I have to understand her fear and come up with actions she takes, because of that fear.

So…to start, I’m reading. More history on immigrants in Chicago, on how bad things were and how long the problems lasted. The fact that people were fighting this battle for at least two generations (and, yes, are still fighting it) is a big part of my story, and I need to hone in on that sense of This is STILL happening?! I’ll also be reading about mothers and daughters, the not-good stuff…okay, the really not-good stuff. Light, pleasure reading? Um…no. Has to be done, though.

And somewhere in here, I’ll be plotting. I just downloaded the beta version of Scrivener for Windows, and I’m really excited about that corkboard. I’m going to dig out some of my plot books and think about connections and tension and layering.

Does this sound like it’ll take a while? It sure does to me. But it is part of the process. The first draft did a great job showing me what I don’t have figured out–and I’m going to get at least some of that cleared up before I start writing again. Will I go on and on and on forever before I revise. Nah. Don’t worry. I can only sustain not-writing for so long. Pretty soon, half the books will be read, some of the plot will be figured out, and I’ll start itching. 🙂

Until then, though…


  1. nrhatch says:

    Silly old bear! (Pooh, not you). 🙂

    If you have a chance, swing by and enter the Which Witch Contest . . .



  2. Melissa says:

    OO how is Scrivener for Windows?? I want to try it out sooo badly but haven’t been able to yet.

    My first book tattered into a million pieces during the first round of revisions. I wrote it with no real plan in sight – and MAN it showed. I’m crossing my fingers a little more planning for this one will go a long way.

    Happy researching 🙂


    • beckylevine says:

      Well, I’ve just gone thru the tutorial, but it looks good. I think it helps that I’ve heard so many people who actually USE it and love it.


      • Melissa says:

        True, it has been talked up A LOT. I know they were giving away free copies for all NaNoWriMo winners last year, but I don’t have a Mac.

        A dear friend of mine just purchased the Apple version and has not stopped drooling yet.

        My biggest concern is that I have a netbook with a TINY SCREEN. I’m worried it won’t function properly. May have to save it for the desktop.


        • beckylevine says:

          Do you know that you can download a Beta version for free right now? Might be worth trying it out! Check the link I have in the blog post. 🙂


        • Melissa says:

          I saw that! Someone linked it on twitter a few days ago!

          I tried yWriter & wasn’t overly fond of it, so I think I’m going to give it a whirl. Ideally, I’d like something set up just like it, but available online so I can access it anywhere. I’m pretty sure my boss wouldn’t approve of the laptop set up at my desk. We shall see..


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