My first draft is better than my second?

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hikarinakano
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My first draft is better than my second?

#1 Post by hikarinakano » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:19 pm

For the couple of months while I was writing my first draft, the entire story came easily, and getting it on paper wasn't that difficult. Obviously, being the first draft, it had some strange dialogue wordings and glaring pacing issues, however, the scene progression followed a pretty clear sequence and structure. There were even scenes that I would go so far as to call, "good".

Now, I'm on my second draft. Or rather, I've been on it for the past month. I keep writing a quarter of it and restarting because the dialogue seems more awkward than on my first draft, the pacing is incredibly slow, I can't get to the plot cleanly and quickly enough in the beginning, etc. etc.
There are some days when I don't even know what scene will come after the current one, and so I skip it altogether until a later date.

What should I do in this situation? Should I write a new outline? Keep restarting until it's good?
Literally everything that tends goes wrong in the first draft is happening to my second draft.

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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#2 Post by fleet » Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:45 pm

Congratulations, you've gotten further than many writers who never finish a first draft.
Here's my advice. Set a timeline for yourself (the same amount of time that it took you to write the first draft) and finish writing the second draft, with the caveat that once you write something for the second draft DO NOT CHANGE IT.
Have several people that you trust to read the second draft and give their recommendations. Review the recommendations and implement the one you think will improve the story.
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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#3 Post by Imperf3kt » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:08 pm

You're in the same rut I'm in.
If you're anything like myself, which you seem to be, your first draft was aimed at generating a basic plot.
Ideas were flowing and you didn't care about minor issues like bad wording or small inconsistencies - you'd fix them up later.

However, now that you have reached that stage, you're thinking less about creating your story, and more about refining it.
It is said that a creator is his own most harsh critic and I believe that. The problem is that you aren't happy with your creation.

The solution is easy, if not always obtainable. This is your second draft. You aren't at your final draft yet. You've skipped the most important stage in writing; feedback.
You can't be truly honest with yourself, its not an easy thing to be.
You're looking for perfection, whilst your audience is most likely looking for entertainment.

Get some drafts out, ask what people think, ask what they liked / didn't like, but most importantly, just ask.

Over critical thinking is what is working against you here. Find what others like, adapt to the style that you like best.
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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#4 Post by Mammon » Fri Jan 20, 2017 4:46 am

I'm going to start the same as my predecessors: Gratz on finishing the first draft and your concerns are logical because the first draft was you writing something with lower expectations than the second one. With the first one, what was written just had to suffice and you needed to get the story into a script, that's it. With the second one, you'll be striving for perfection and making it work, very difficult.

I'd say that rewriting a script is much easier effort wise, but much harder achievement wise. It feels much easier to do, get started on, and finish compared to the first draft which takes effort for a scene to finish. Unlike the first draft, you can lose focus on the second one and finish the rewrite half-assed. At least, that's what you can feel when you finish with more ease than what the first draft took out of you. The first thing I'd suggest as fleet already said before me; don't stop a rewrite to begin anew and don't keep trying to improve the first draft->final draft in one go. Rewrite the first into the second draft all the way to the end before you allow yourself to rewrite the first scenes again, otherwise you'll be rewriting the beginning until the world ends. Don't like some things that you did? Maybe it'll work as you develop them throughout the story or you get a sense of what could work in their place as you're writing through the new endings.

I personally disagree with Imperf3ct, I don't think feedback should be a vital neccesity at this point. You may feel like you need it or could use it, but those doubts usually stem from the writer not knowing where to take the story. Your rewriting problem probably stems from you knowing exactly what you want to do, but not doing it as you want. I say; get feedback if you want, but if they comment on something you haven't done the way you want yet you might be deaf to their claims, because you feel they don't understand it yet due to it being a work in process. First get it to a point where you feel you can no longer improve it a lot on your own, then get help. At least, that's my opinion.

My personal experience writing P&Y:
-I wrote my first draft the same way you did it until I felt it was finished. But it was a bit meager.
-I started my second draft and decided that the first draft was a bit bare-boned, so I added a lot of semi-neccesary scenes to flesh out the characters while I rewrote the already existing scenes.
-I noticed that my MC was much more coldhearted than perverted in the end, and instead of writing this out of the ends I added those traits to the earlier scenes too. Allowing myself to own the unwanted development, I added a new ending where MC's psycho traits came to fruitition.
-The fourth draft was not really a mayor shift in feeling rather than me unifying the elements of three previous drafts and adding some more consistency to the system and lore. F.ex. two unrelated endings became two different versions of the same ending in two different ways of remembering them.
-The fifth draft was more of a continuation of the fourth, by cutting out some of the unwanted fat like scenes that I added only to regret later. I mean, who was waiting for a Yaoi end? It was also a rationality filter, removing a lot of the supernatural elements that were plot devices in the earliest drafts.
-And finally a sixth draft as I put everything in code and added expressions. Rewrites based upon how the expressions could work best and what code I could use, with another check for grammar issues etc.
(Each of these drafts of course also includes the base idea of sifting out errors, improving pacing etc.)
So yes, I couldn't have possibly reached my goals in 2 drafts either, and my story is much more lineair than yours.
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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#5 Post by bluebirdplays » Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:17 pm

I think the initial first draft is always the easiest for most writers because at that point we have a plan of action. Getting to editing and building on a second draft...now that's a hard one. I think we all tend to have troubles rereading our works because we easily notice errors and try so hard to correct them. I agree with Imperf3kt , it's really just the second draft. Get through it, refine what you believe sounds better than what you wrote in your first draft, and if you aren't sure, leave it in.

You can correct on the next editing draft, and by that point may have plenty of alternatives in mind if something feels off in your story.

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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#6 Post by mard » Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:33 pm

I'm currently in the middle of the second draft of my current project myself. Let me share something I've learned from experience over the years. The second draft is always the hardest. In the first draft, you are so caught up in the flow, you don't really have the time to think. The ideas just seem to flow from your pen onto the paper. When you get to the second draft, you are looking at your first with a very subjective eye, and tend to focus too much on trying to make your second better than your first, leading you to the situation you are currently in, focusing too much on perfection to make any progress.

Don't focus on perfection. It's only the second draft. Focus on making it through the second draft, and all consecutive drafts will come so much easier. You'll have taken the rough outline of the first draft, and created a firm image within your mind of what you want by the time you finish the second draft. Creating that image is the hardest part, believe me. But once you push past it, you'll be amazed how easily things come.
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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#7 Post by hikarinakano » Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:38 pm

All of these have the same general gist to them, which sounds good to me.
Just go through the second draft now that I have a better grasp on the story, don't focus on the little, little things just yet, maybe get feedback. And don't be a perfectionist.

That sounds like a plan!

One thing that I didn't really get, though -
Imperf3kt wrote:Over critical thinking is what is working against you here. Find what others like, adapt to the style that you like best.
Can't the overly critical mindset be good for fixing plot holes, though? Because that was another thing that made me stall for a while. The story that I'm writing is a time travel story, which nearly always comes with plot holes and the like. I think that I spent a week or more just nullifying paradoxical arguments and coming up with faux-science to work with so that I can avoid those plot holes.

Basically, when does being really, really critical help you, and when does it do more harm than good?
Mammon wrote:and my story is much more lineair than yours.
This is true, very true indeed :lol:

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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#8 Post by Imperf3kt » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:16 pm

hikarinakano wrote: One thing that I didn't really get, though -
Imperf3kt wrote:Over critical thinking is what is working against you here. Find what others like, adapt to the style that you like best.
Can't the overly critical mindset be good for fixing plot holes, though? Because that was another thing that made me stall for a while. The story that I'm writing is a time travel story, which nearly always comes with plot holes and the like. I think that I spent a week or more just nullifying paradoxical arguments and coming up with faux-science to work with so that I can avoid those plot holes.

Basically, when does being really, really critical help you, and when does it do more harm than good?
Mammon wrote:and my story is much more lineair than yours.
This is true, very true indeed :lol:
It can help, but it's not yet the right time for that. I'd personally leave that for a third or even fourth draft - when you're starting to finalise how you've worded everything and are making sure there's no plot holes.
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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#9 Post by RotGtIE » Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:44 am

Get an editor. This is what they are for.

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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#10 Post by Carradee » Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:13 pm

Why are you assuming a complete second draft is necessary? Not all writers need that. (Most professional writers I know define "rewriting" as something more akin to how schools define "revising".) Instead, take your first draft (and any items you like from your second). Ditch and redo where warranted, revise or edit where warranted, and don't assume that some single process is gonna end up being "right" for either you or your story.

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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#11 Post by Mammon » Sun Jan 22, 2017 5:28 am

Carradee wrote:Instead, take your first draft. Ditch and redo where warranted, revise or edit where warranted, and don't assume that some single process is gonna end up being "right" for either you or your story.
That's pretty much what we mean here with a second draft. It's not like I rewrote my entire script six times (the nightmare) rather than that I revised it significantly. Went through the entire thing and edited whereever necessary or possible. People around here usually only use a first draft to refer to them finishing the script in it's outline or most bare-bone version but still being riddled with typos and pacing issues, anything past that is usually just referred to as a script unless it's a discussion like this one.
hikarinakano wrote:
Imperf3kt wrote:Over critical thinking is what is working against you here. Find what others like, adapt to the style that you like best.
Can't the overly critical mindset be good for fixing plot holes, though? Because that was another thing that made me stall for a while. The story that I'm writing is a time travel story, which nearly always comes with plot holes and the like. I think that I spent a week or more just nullifying paradoxical arguments and coming up with faux-science to work with so that I can avoid those plot holes.
Basically, when does being really, really critical help you, and when does it do more harm than good?
Remember that what you explain might end up confusing the audience more. You not only spent a week thinking on the entire story's paradoxes and logic, but you did so while also knowing all the character traits, developments, story events, etc. etc. The reader, especially on the first playthrough, will not have such a vast understanding of the story to see such flaws with, and instead they might be confused by an explanation on a paradox you saw that they don't even understand yet. If you finetune your story too early too much, at least a few of these audience-alienating cases are bound to show up, double likely considering that not every reader will have the same understanding and ideas of time travel.

Some people will understand the time travel concepts as well as you do, others won't know much more than a back-to-the-future understanding of it, and some will have ideas that differ from yours (like same timeline vs multiverse). The time travel flaws seems more something to let a few proofreaders and betatesters decide whether it makes sense, the more you try to perfect it the more likely you'll do the opposite.
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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#12 Post by hikarinakano » Sun Jan 22, 2017 6:32 pm

Mammon wrote: Remember that what you explain might end up confusing the audience more. You not only spent a week thinking on the entire story's paradoxes and logic, but you did so while also knowing all the character traits, developments, story events, etc. etc. The reader, especially on the first playthrough, will not have such a vast understanding of the story to see such flaws with, and instead they might be confused by an explanation on a paradox you saw that they don't even understand yet. If you finetune your story too early too much, at least a few of these audience-alienating cases are bound to show up, double likely considering that not every reader will have the same understanding and ideas of time travel.
Well, for the most part, all of those explanations (and I think that there's only one or two or something) or completely optional, and actually reading them isn't important at all. While it's certainly important that the rules and explanations exist, they don't need to be shoved up in your face. In fact, I keep moving them further and further down on the list of importance. Right now, they're just some optional conversation in the first and second-to-last routes, but I may just shove them into "Extras" and call it done.

So yes, I did think about all the different logic holes and whatnot for a week, but I know (at least) that infodumps are bad.
Carradee wrote:Why are you assuming a complete second draft is necessary? Not all writers need that. (Most professional writers I know define "rewriting" as something more akin to how schools define "revising".) Instead, take your first draft (and any items you like from your second). Ditch and redo where warranted, revise or edit where warranted, and don't assume that some single process is gonna end up being "right" for either you or your story.
I guess I should've better described my first draft from the very beginning. The story is supposed to have a balance of character development and action-propelled plot. Most sci-fi stories are. That's just good writing - everything is a balance, and you tip it only when necessary.

My story, great as the original plot and character development was, looked something like this at the end of the first draft:
Start of story -> Action scene with little significance -> Character development for the entirety of the second arc -> a random arc where the main character is injured several times for no good reason -> They time travel to revert it, which is what they should've done in the first place -> They actually get around to solving the plot, and everyone is happy.

So basically, the entire thing is just so poorly paced that I felt the need to actually give the scenes a structure, thus requiring me to remove and rewrite most of it.

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Re: My first draft is better than my second?

#13 Post by Imperf3kt » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:28 pm

Thats a common thing to happen on a second draft. You'll just have to work on your writing skills to avoid auch pitfalls.

I would agree that putting the 'rules' into extras is a good idea.
As an example, in my own project, I wrote both a prologue and lore and added them as an extra. I then programmed my story start so it would recognise if a player had read them or not. If they had, it asks if they wish to review them. If not, the game suggests reading them, but both are optional.

The prologue is like a backstory, explaining how the world came to be as it is in the VN. The lore explains things like magic and other plot devices.
This way, a player can choose if they want to go in blindly, figuring it out as they go, or begin with a basic understanding of the world within the novel. They can access these at any time, too. This also allows for repeat plays to skip the boring parts of world building.

Give it a try.
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