When I originally posted about the second draft, I mentioned four areas to keep an eye on as you did your read-through: Plot, Characters, Pacing, Theme/Symbolism. I originally thought I would need to do more in-depth posts on all those subjects. But I don't have much else to say about theme/symbolism and I found this excellent article on pacing here. Any thoughts I added to Myra Johnson's would be mere fluff.
So instead I'm going to move on to the third draft, to the draft I looooove. Because the story part is basically done. Now I'm just making it sparkle.
During the third draft, I hardly ever leave a sentence untouched. This is likely because my first drafts are so sloppy, but I really do tweak just about every line.
When I'm working on a scene in my first draft, I will sometimes close my eyes and imagine what's going on around my character. But not often. Especially if I already know what's going to happen in the scene; then I'm just plowing through the set up so I can get to the yummy dialogue stuff that I really like to write. Which means - for me - the most exciting scenes in my novel are usually in the worst shape.
I'm not saying my way is right or good, but it's usually not until the third draft that I close my eyes and try to picture the scene around my character. Um, confession: sometimes I don't even do much thinking about what my characters look like until the third draft. I have an idea of what my main character and her fella look like, and maybe a couple other key characters, but in general those details don't feel important to me until the sparkle draft.
So while you spent your second draft getting a feel for the "forest" (click here if that's confusing), now you're heading back to your trees. You are scrutinizing each tree - each scene - and asking yourself this question:
Would anything be affected if I removed this scene? If the answer is no you have two choices - cut it, or make it matter.
Donald Maass's advice is if your character is sitting around drinking tea, you can probably cut it. Or - if there's good stuff in there - make a more interesting choice for what your character could be doing. One of my early manuscripts opens with the main character and her best friend sitting in Starbucks for, like, 10 pages. Boring. The conflict is great, but if I ever return to that manuscript, they are definitely going to need to move around.
If you're willing to share, I'd love to hear some interesting activities you've had your characters engaged in while carrying on a conversation. Some "Starbucks alternatives," if you will.
Have a great Wednesday everyone!