Game Over – The Unique Pain of Novel Redrafts

I knew it was coming. It felt like that moment just before you reach the Boss Enemy at the end of a level you’ve already failed half a dozen times. The bit where you grit your teeth and tense up. The bit when your novel writing goes to hell. Image

I’ve been documenting the birth of Ironfang on here since its inception in June, from the first coy announcement of the genre to the triumphal first draft finale. In the past two months of hard writing I’ve been astounded by both my own productivity and dedication. I feel like I’m really getting into the business of professional writing. But now the honeymoon is up and the game’s most definitely over.

I started Ironfang’s second draft two days ago, and in one night of confused writing it all seemed to go to hell. Plotting is my greatest fear and biggest weakness, and it felt as though the moment I went back to the story’s start and tried to weave in fresh strands everything went wrong. The strands got horribly knotted. I started losing track of who was where and what was when. The antagonists had the motivation for their actions hacked out. Even the cat I cast as Val’s pet was staring out of the page at me going


That was the first ‘fuck this’ moment I’ve had with Ironfang, which actually makes me quite proud. It seems that most writers have their first doubts when they reach the 20,000 word mark, so the fact that I actually got the first draft done without a care in the world is great. Unfortunately I’ve now realised that the redrafts are going to be a killer.

The situation has improved slightly since that panic a few days back. The issues are being ironed out, slowly and painfully. The word count is looking healthy. There’s certainly no way I’m stopping. But it’s worth mentioning, for the sake of all the fellow writing newbies out there, that hit points where all you want to do is give up isn’t just normal, it’s downright inevitable. That doesn’t mean things won’t work out if you keep at it. I couldn’t close with better words than those of Richard Bach;

A professional writer is an armature who didn’t quit.



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5 responses to “Game Over – The Unique Pain of Novel Redrafts

  1. I’m in the same boat. I got a first draft down, and the re-write is so daunting, I haven’t touched it in a couple months! I look at the manuscript on my desk and just don’t know where to start.

    Good luck, and I look forward to hearing how you broke through the panic!

    • I don’t want to sound preachy, but I’d definitely consider going back and having a go at that redraft. I know it’s easy saying that and when you’re deep into it then it becomes incredibly tough, but the only way forward (that I can see anyway) is to just keep going, regardless of how bad you feel about your writing. Ultimately it’s not agents and editors who’ll stop your book being published, it’s you. I’ll quit talking now before I start to really sound like a self-help teacher 🙂

  2. Keep at it— I’m in my second draft too and reached the 5th chapter. Felt like a steep climb so far.

  3. Pingback: Paper Vultures – A SITREP (Part 7) | Robbie MacNiven

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