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The First Draft Is Easy

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m starting in on my second draft of my novel. What I’m learning is that the first draft was the easy part. Which if you had told me that while writing my first draft I would have said you were crazy.

Surely, the first draft is the hardest. You’re trying to collect your thoughts and get something coherent down on paper without your inner critic getting in the way. After that it is just clean up. Right?

Almost. What I’m discovering is that there are plenty of helpful tips and blogs with numbered lists of how to get your first manuscript finished. There are a plethora of people ready to show you how to start your first novel and even how to finish it. But it seems like no one is really sure on how to EDIT your first novel.

Now I’m not talking about the easy stuff. Oh, cut out adverbs. Remove was/were, cut gerunds, and the word very.

What I’m talking about is how to keep the editing from snowballing into a complete rewrite. There are some issues I’d like to address but I keep finding that changing them starts to inflate and need more and more changes down the line which then affect the overall pacing in a negative way.

I then have to ask myself, are the changes necessary? I certainly feel like they are. But how can I really know?

One idea was to rewrite a brand new outline. Just outline the ideas for changes and include what has already been written in the outline. That way I can catch these snowballs before I get too deep into the editing process. Lord knows that I don’t want to be halfway through editing a full MS and realize that the changes in chapter one have screwed up everything.

I’m finding this next part to be challenging. More challenging than writing my first draft. But I know it will be as rewarding an experience and satisfying once I’m able to hand it off to my beta readers. My job now is to figure out the method that works best for me when it comes to editing a second draft.

I only wish that it was as easy as the first.



  1. LadyGrave says:

    Good luck! I have been “editing” my first draft since August, and you’re absolutely right: it is the hardest part. It’s also scary because, since we’re not ready to show the draft to anyone, we’re making all these huge plot changes on our own and hoping we’re doing the right thing and not messing it all up. I’ve just tried to go with my gut on all the changes, which has meant complete re-writes in certain places, and tried to accept that I might end up re-writing everything again after I show it to my first readers.

    • Thanks! I’m lucky in that my writing group read it as I was writing the first draft. So I have a good idea on what needs to be changed. Its just that I have some new ideas and I don’t know if they’ll work or not :-/

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