If at First You Don’t Succeed, Draft, Draft and Draft Again

I realise it’s been a while since my last blog – but there’s been a good reason for the absence! Namely, I’ve been redrafting my book [more on that here] and I seem to work much better when I focus solely on that and turn off the internet (shocking, I know).


As of yesterday, 123,447 words later, I have finally finished draft two and printed off the first EVER copy of the book. Here’s a lovely picture…

So, what’s been going on with this new draft? Well, after finishing the first version, I made myself go through all the characters and the society in the book (it’s set in the future!), and write down detailed back stories and timelines for pretty much everything. I didn’t really want to and it took ages, but, wow, did my understanding of the story develop as a result. I realise this is a strange thing to say, given that I wrote said story, but it’s amazing how many new things you can learn about characters you invented! Subsequently, when I was working through draft two it became so much more obvious to me how certain people would really react to things and what they’d say.

The other big change for this draft was that I switched from first person to third person. Again, this was a great deal of work, but I’m so very, very, very glad I did it. The main character starts off quite young and, the more I thought about it, the more I realised a lot of what she said was my voice and not hers. There were things I might want to tell the reader but couldn’t because she wouldn’t say them. It was a big decision to make, but I tested it out on the first chapter – which was quite inner-monologuey (not a word, should be) – and immediately found the writing so much easier and more natural.

With all this in mind, I waded through the 80,000 odd words of draft one, adding extra bits, cutting parts, re-reading, re-drafting and talking about it A LOT to my very patient family. All the changes led to draft two being 40,000 words longer. I’m not sure second drafts are technically supposed to be longer, especially by that much, but I feel this was more a symptom of my musical theatre background than anything else. With shows, I’m used to often having to relate information as concisely as possible in one scene, because there just isn’t time to do otherwise. Reading the first draft back, everything felt rushed and it was a real learning curve for me to realise I could take time to fully describe things and, particularly, to play out developing storylines gradually over multiple scenes. So, it may be a lot longer, but I think it needed it and I feel so much happier about the story being properly fleshed out now.

Once I reached the end of the final chapter, I felt a great relief and sense of achievement – but draft two still wasn’t quite ready for a proof read copy yet. What stood between me and that wonderful print-out was this…

…a stonking great big pile of ideas notes I’d written over the years I’d been thinking about this story. Gotta’ admit, I was a little tempted to just put it in the recycling and be done with it… but I had the niggling feeling I might miss something important that I’d meant to put in. So, armed with a thick black marker pen – to satisfyingly cross off and scribble out the things I’d covered – I waded into the fray…

It was a little hard going and some of my handwriting is truly terrible, but, again, it was worth doing! With the final changes made, I was ready to print. For those interested, here’s an exciting and dynamic picture of said momentous printing…

Writing this book has been a massive undertaking, but the story is one I’ve had in my head for probably going on six or seven years now and I can’t tell you how, well, awesome (yes, awesome) it feels to finally have it out in some kind of concrete form. Until this moment, it’s just been a jumble of ideas that only I knew about and I couldn’t really share with anyone.

So, what next?

I realise there is still a long way – and many re-drafts – to go, but my next step is proof reading, both by myself and some kindly trusted friends, many of whom have done this before with my shows and I know will give me honest criticism.

And then?

I’d love to ultimately get it published and will work towards that, but it’s a highly competitive industry with a lot of talented people out there. Whatever happens, this is a story I felt I had to write and it just feels wonderful to have finally been able to do that.

So there we go; I’ve written a book. Is it a good book? Who knows? However, I figure the first step to writing a good book is to write a book, so at least I’m part way there.

Thanks for reading!

Laura x

Twitter: @LauraTisdall
Facebook: LauraTisdallWriter