Margaret talks about the painstaking process of re-writing first drafts.
Writing the first draft of a novel is the easy part! Did I really say that? Nothing in writing is easy. If readers think we sit down and write from beginning to end without any head-banging then they’re mistaken. Even first drafts are hard. But the really hard part is going through it and finding out our carefully written words do not entirely convey what it is we’re trying to say. So we work on it some more. We re-write, we re-write again, and maybe again, until finally we are happy.
So what do we feel when we read through our first draft? Firstly that it’s not the masterpiece we thought it was. Secondly, it’s going to need a lot of hard work. And maybe even a complete re-write. But do we feel downhearted? Maybe initially, but we know our first drafts are no more than that. They’re the first blocks in the building process.
By this time we know our characters inside out, how they react, how they think, and although it’s time-consuming (and maybe we’d much rather be working on another book, it’s an essential part of story-telling. The hard part is that each altered scene or conversation has a knock-on effect and before we know it we’re re-writing whole chapters.
My stories are short by some standards, hovering around the fifty thousand word mark, so my headaches cannot possibly be as bad as authors who write much longer books. Not that it seems like that to me at the time. But at least I know at the end of the day that my book is the best I can make it.