The Intent of the Second Edit

Or is it the Second Draft or First Edit? 

Mind you, the terminology sometimes twists my head around.  Ultimately, I am going back over my work after a hard fought struggle to put it out only in the last few weeks to realize that I had basically written two novels, that change tone in the middle, and do not answer key questions that a reader should have!


Now it has been said by Stephen King that a second draft should be the first draft minus 10%.  Well, I guess from his position, having written millions of words in comprehensible sequential order, you get it mostly right the first time, if not a little verbose.  Furthermore, I think that Editor Shawn Coyne hit the nail on the head in his Story Grid podcasts  (watch them if you want to learn about editing!!!), that Stephen King could say that purely because he had internalized so many good editing practices over the decades of writing and teaching how to write.  It’s good to be the King.

For the rest of us lowly scrivening plebes who are pecking out our personal masterpieces, Second Draft/First Edit/Next Iteration… whatever, means that we are needing to add to the pile because we need to figure out what we missed to say, intended to say or should have said.  It’s days like this that make me go “Lord God on High!  Please… let reality do what I intended, not what I said!”  To which he often chuckles, pats me lovingly on the head and says, “No, try again.  You’ll get better in time.”

So here I sit, partially avoiding editing because I busy myself talking with you good folk and concern myself on if/when I should eat something rather than kneading this mess into its proper form and answering all the questions.  Another part being that some changes happened while working on background information.  You have to know how things work to get them correct the first time, right?  What are these arguments I am having with my creation?  Well, when I realized that I had been glossing over something fundamental about the setting and secondary/tertiary characters, I had to go back, dig up that rock, clean it up and put it through the polisher to figure out how I needed to write about it!

The rest boils down to a few essentials that surprised me when I started teaching myself about what editors want, what they need and the actual parts of good story structure when writing Genre fiction.  Ye gawd!  Someone shoot me if I go off into literary fiction at this time!  I’d probably dig myself into my own grave.    I always picture Donald Sutherland in “Animal House” when asked about his teaching, and admits he had been writing his novel for 4 years and it’s “shit”.  No no no.  I am not going down that road of analysis paralyzation insanity.  I’ll stick with writing some essays first, although, I do have a memoir in mind for some day.  I just love the title.  Nope no spoilers yet.  Just satisfied with the name before I do the hard work for that book, and that’s coming after much easier to write (for me at least) fiction.

The first hurdle was realizing that I had to shift voices from first person to third person subjective.  Not a difficult task, but nitpicky none the less.  Technically that was the second hurdle.  The first really was realizing that I had no real genre specific climax but had most of two novels sitting there, so I had to write a real climax and that would involve shifting the way I viewed my main characters.  My hero became a victim, my secondary character became the hero, and he now needs page time!  To which I say, “Bollocks!  I really got this backwards!”

I have loosely outlined what needs to be done, inserted the placeholders and started typing.  At least I started typing till I got on the kick of making this writer’s blog which now I have successfully avoided 2 days of editing, with a self imposed deadline of the week of Independence Day rapidly approaching for finding beta readers.  Good Lord!  I now have to look for a REAL editor too?  And cover artist?  Ack!  They weren’t lying (Oh those mysterious ‘they’!) when they said that writing the first draft was the easy part.

So I peck this out for you, and brace myself in taking the backstory that I had been crafting, stuff that will never see the light of day… or maybe depending on how hard up I get for blog material or just think it’d be a fun reward for those who follow me here.

Okay, enough.  I have to force myself to do the things I must and move forward.

FYI, please don’t get frustrated with all the changes to Resonant Point.  I’m still trying to find my place with it all and am still not sure this is the best theme, but so far, every time I compare, I don’t find one better.  Le sigh.  For another day.

It’s midnight.  Time to wake up and get to work.



  1. It’s a luxury to worry about what to call your work the second time around. When I finished my first draft, I learned pros called my draft “blocking” or a “junk draft.” They say I’m writing my first draft now.

    I still say second, because that saves my psyche. Calling it the first makes me feel like the months I spent “blocking” never happened. I call my work whatever motivates instead of intimidates. That way, it will get done.

    1. Good to know that others feel the same way. I have to basically kick myself in the butt and move forward it seems. Them milestone won’t be passed if I don’t start walking… metaphorically speaking. 🙂

      One of the first things I thought as you added more names was “Curse you, ever growing terminology!”