Why is this time different than the last books I've written? My first three books of the Windor series were my starter books. I wrote Nicova before them (I've taken it out of publishing and probably will never put it back up for people to buy), then I started the Windor fantasy series. I've received rather good feedback about these books, but they are novelettes not novels. I love writing them and it helped me learn MY style of writing while doing so. Then I wrote Silently Screaming; for this book I posted chapter by chapter on Wattpad which was a neat experience, however once I posted a chapter, I moved onto the next. Of ALL these books, I never really wrote a second draft. Yes I re-edited and read the first draft many times, but they never changed significantly for me to be able to call them my second draft.
So for this novel, Safe, I'm trying to follow the necessary steps of traditional (indie too) writers. I use the word traditional lightly, only because I know there are a lot of amazing Independent writers that go through the same steps as a traditional writer, and yet choose to self-publish because they love it and receive great feedback from readers.
I've joined a writing group (there are only two in my area, but only one of them meets at a time that works within my crazy schedule). As I read the chapters in Your First Novel by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb it talks about how important it is to meet other writers. I have never been able to attend writing workshops or classes (hopefully I will this year), however I have now joined a writing group. And I'm really excited about it, the first meeting is in a couple of weeks. What's funny is, I joined this group and hadn't read the chapter in the book yet referring to its importance. I guess I was on the right track!
What is a second draft? This draft of your manuscript might include new scenes, deleted old scenes, some scenes might be moved to a different chapter, completely rewritten characters, changed ending (hopefully not the whole book). Quite honestly, it's hard to tell you what a second draft is when this is my first time doing so. But these are the steps I will follow to get there
1. I'm taking 6 weeks off (or at least a few weeks), putting the novel in my drawer and I'm not LOOKING AT IT. Meanwhile, my family is reading it. This is hard, because I WANT to move forward with the novel that I'm so excited about. But I'm being patient and putting it away!
2. Working on different projects while it sits in my drawer. For me, I'm working on submitting short stories to sci-fi magazines. (I've read that it's a good idea to obtain reputable credit for a writer's name if they ever plan on going the traditional publishing route). I've bought a few magazines and am reading them to get a feel for what type of writing they're looking for. In other words, I don't want to blindly send out queries/submissions to magazine editors.
3. After six weeks, I'll be taking in the critical feedback from my readers and re-read my book with a different approach. I've read a number of times how writers should PRINT OUT THE PAPERS, don't just read your manuscript on a computer screen. Print them out, lay the scenes out in choronilogical order and see if it's missing something. The book I'm reading stresses how important it is a for a writer to be able to polish his/her own work; Don't send your first draft to an editor and have them tell you what it's missing, you need to be able to do this for yourself as well. Literary Agents want to see polished manuscripts, not just edited first drafts.
4. Read my book aloud in front of a few groups. I'm not sure if I'm ready for this one, but hopefully I will be. If I'm able, I'll read a chapter or two aloud to a writing group (if they'll be so kind) or a friend, and find other groups by going to books stores etc. (still not sure if I'm going to be able to do this one)
Below are two urls that the book, Your First Novel, suggests:
www.pw.org (for a directory of writers to find a group for yourself) Prior to reading the chapter, I found a group by going to meetup.com.
www.aar-online.org (here you'll find a list of names and addresses of every agent member. Every agent of this group has to prove they sold a certain number of books within a certain period of time etc)
If you haven't read the book Your First Novel by Rittenberg and Whitcomb, you should. It's a great read for a writer trying to hone their craft and break into the big writing world.