Thoughts on Completing My Novel’s Third Draft

And then there were three: first (green), second (blue), and third (clear) drafts of my WIP

It almost happened too fast for me to have any thoughts on the process at all.

Compared to the marathon of completing the second draft of my historical fiction WIP—which amounted to a complete rewrite of a draft written years ago—there was no way, I told myself, that I’d spend another year on draft three.

Or even the better part of a year

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Thoughts on Completing My Novel’s Second Draft

Thirty-one chapters rewritten and accounted for

It took an entire year.

In not even counting the two months where I purposely did no writing at all, it took an entire year to write the second draft of my historical fiction novel-in-progress, which amounted to a complete rewrite of my first draft.

It took longer to write than the first draft itself, which I completed in 10 months back in in 2005.

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The Incredible Shrinking Blog Post

Brevity, it’s true, has never been my strength – not when it comes to writing.

In 1999, while in university studying ecology, I had one particular class that came with very specific instructions regarding the format for our laboratory reports.  They were as follows:

  • Double-spaced
  • Times New Roman font
  • 12 point font size
  • 1-inch margins
  • 6 complete pages

For most of my classmates, the problem was always managing to fill the entire six pages.  They would contrive all sorts of strategies: big, blocky tables; subheadings with spaced-out titles; a blank line above the page numbers.

Me – I had the opposite problem: I always needed just a little more room.

So, I contrived a strategy of my own.

This was in the early years of Windows-based word processing programs (as opposed to DOS-based), and a time when Microsoft Word had started gaining greater market share than its rival, Corel WordPerfect.

I’d been a loyal WordPerfect user since its white-on-blue-screened DOS iteration of 1993 (full disclosure: I still WordPerfect) despite the university being a Microsoft-centric campus.  I thus had both WordPerfect and Word on my 1999 computer.

And I chanced upon a discovery: WordPerfect permitted fractional font sizes, while, at that time, Word did not.  That meant that using WordPerfect, I could shrink my font size to 11.8 point (which showed little visual difference from 12 point), and subsequently gain about 3 extra lines of text.

I did this on every single lab report.

I’ve mentioned in one of my earliest posts that I possess what I refer to as the “verbosity gene”, which often leads me to write things twice as long as they’re meant to be.  Exhibit A: My novel-in-progress is actually a novel in two volumes.

Exhibit B: My blog posts.

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No One Would Make a Coconut Fluoride Rinse: A writer’s frustration with finding the right words

A Distractions & Subtractions post

So, I have this sort of condition….

It’s nothing overly serious – nothing requiring medical treatment or that’s even been officially diagnosed.  More than anything, it makes for something of an odd party trick in response to yet another game folks may play at a party.

The blindfolded, guess-what-food-I’ve-just-put-in-your-mouth game.

Yes, this does, indeed, relate to writing.  Everything does with me, dontcha know?

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The Answer to an Even Bigger Question

Rule of Engagement 3.2

I love numbers.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not some sort of mathematician.  I’m not even all that adept at numerical manipulation: in restaurants, like many, I struggle to calculate my portion of a group bill, and to also figure out an appropriate gratuity, and somewhat typical of my generation, I generally can’t perform long division in my head unlike the many people of my parents’ generation who can.

Still, though, numbers hold a place in my heart, or at least, the idea of numbers does, as does what they represent.  For in numbers, I see a concrete means of comparing two or more different states of being: how something is to how it could or should be; how something is to how it was previously; where something started and where it ends.

In short, numbers can be used to monitor change and – more importantly – progress.

And what writer isn’t interested in that?

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