My Editing Process: Draft One to Draft Two

I’ve just started the process of editing my middle grade novel that I finished during Camp NaNoWriMo, so it seemed fitting that I talk about what my editing process looks like, specifically, what I do to take my first draft novel to a second draft.

The very first thing I do after finishing a first draft is to celebrate. But after that I like to leave the manuscript alone for a while so that I become less familiar with it. In this case, I only left the book for about a week. In other cases I would leave it for a month or two.

I like to edit in hardcover form, so I like to print out my first draft, but before I do that, I like to go through and fix the major grammar issues that my processor picks up. Basically I go through and get rid of the red squiggly lines. This basically helps me not focus so much on blaring grammar mistakes while doing big idea, macro-edits.

Then I change the font (I went from Courier New to Bell MT for those interested), increase the margins and spacing, and click print. These changes are small but neccesary. To write the book I’ve been staring at Courier New for a month, by changing the font I mix up what my brain is used to seeing in order to shed new light on the manuscript. Big margins and double spacing allow for detailed notes and change the placement of the words on the page in a way I haven’t seen them before.

My first read through is mostly to refamiliarize myself with the story and to take notes on certain things. During the first read through, I note any issues I see with plot and world building. Any time I question the contingency of something about my world, I write it down in question form on an index card. Anything that stands out as jarring, out of place, or abrupt I note as well. This often has to do with pacing and tone for me.

Besides criticizing the story, I also note which parts I really loved because of how well they worked or resonated with me. These are often marked with smiley faces.

In this case, I didn’t split my story into chapters, only scenes, while I was writing, so during the read through I will place chapter breaks to split the story up into its chapters. These chapter breaks are not set in stone at this point.

The second part of turning my first draft into a second draft is separate from the manuscript. I take the questions about plot and world building that I wrote on the index card and answer the questions so that I know for myself what the answers are, and then I work out where that information might be best displayed in the plot, if at all. (Some questions are better left unanswered).

Once I have answered the questions, I go back to the first draft and read through it again, this time noting where I can implement information to help answer the questions I wrote down.

By this point, I’ve been saturated in the story long enough again to break down the story into its literary elements. (Beginning, inciting incident, rising action, climax, denouement). I do this on an index card so that it is handy and easy to reference when I continue editing.

Once I’ve done these two read throughs, I’m ready to implement the changes into the document on my computer. This step is likely to take longer than the read throughs as this draft is about fixing big issues and may require rewriting, adding more text, and replacing placeholders with content.

This revised manuscript is now draft two! Huzzah!

There you have it, my process for turning a first draft manuscript into a second draft. This is the process I am currently working through for my manuscript and I’m excited to continue editing and sharing with you as I take this book from draft one to final draft!

What does your editing process look like? What do you do to take your manuscript to draft two?

3 thoughts on “My Editing Process: Draft One to Draft Two

  1. I find this so interesting! Thanks for sharing your process. I’m a total “pantser,” and I’ve also never written a book before. So far I’ve mostly been a “creative journaller” and I’ve lately experimented with a lot of CNF (creative nonfiction) pieces. But I’ve been getting wistful about writing fiction. Either way, I’d like to move further towards being able to complete a whole book. I just read an article by another author, who, like you, never edits as he writes. And like you, he seems to be successful at completing books. I think I need to take some cues from the both of you!

    BTW, I came to your blog after reading the latest CBC short story email tips, which I’m subscribed to — sincere congrats on being longlisted for the 2018 CBC short story prize!! I loved your tip:

    “”My advice is to build a world you love to write in. Breathe in its histories and cultures, cultivate its societies and peoples, and bring that world to life through the eyes of your main character.”



    1. Thanks so much for your comment! It warmed my heart 🙂 I’ve actually just started getting into creative nonfiction for a class I’m taking. So far it’s been really interesting, but I yearn for my fictional worlds!

      Liked by 1 person

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