For those who read my previous post on the beginning the Second Draft (Click on it to re-read) here’s the follow up: I finished the second draft today. Now its a read through, a spell check, page numbering… and I am off to Toronto to hand deliver it to my editor at Random House Canada, Nita Provonost. Though we have had several conversations we haven’t yet met. And since the relationship between author and editor rapidly becomes most intimate, I felt I had to look at her over a martini.
As ever, the novel changed on this go through. Many of the great gaping holes were filled. Relationships were expanded on and deepened. (I hope!) The plot was streamlined. Yet I am also aware that there is much still to do – and am happy it is so. You have done all that your eye tells you needs to be done – now you need an external eye, preferably someone not invested in you personally. You want dispassion, not a reader concerned about marital harmony. My wife will indeed read at the next stage because she has such a good eye. But not now. Now’s the time for someone else to… clarify my vision. That’s what a good editor does. They don’t seek to write the book themselves. They seek to help you make yours as good and clear as it can be.
One thing developed near the end, almost in the last chapter. I realized it was a key point in an important relationship. So on my final read-through before delivering I will add the odd little touch that point requires earlier.
So my tip is this: you have to remember that the second draft, the delivery draft as I call it, is a only stage of the process. Very important to remember that, and not allow ‘the Voices’ to say it’s not ready to be seen. It is ready, it needs to be seen, by someone else. Its mad to look for any finality now. Indeed, what I heard applied to plays also applies to novels: they are never finished. They are just eventually abandoned.
And the physical manuscript itself? I know almost everyone submits by electronic copy today. And I will do that as well, as people like to read on their kindles and kobos. But from my first novel, The French Executioner, I always liked to drop a bundle of papers off in person… tied up in string. Don’t know why. Maybe I read it somewhere. Just feels traditional and right.