After I finished writing the first draft of my latest novel, I thought I had succeeded in crafting a new genre.
How unaware I was of the dangerous second draft.
Upon rereading the manuscript, I noticed the story fell apart in the middle, although the ending was exceedingly strong. My intention was only to fix the glue between “Once upon a Time” and “The End.”
After editing the first 100 pages, I hit the middle. The sludge depressed me. How was I going to make sense of the mess? The characters had evolved, but not consistently. The conflict had escalated, but unrealistically. The complications were more complicated, but required charts, graphs, and a Power Point presentation to understand it.
Luckily, my daughter came to the rescue. She sat down with me one evening and asked me why my mood reflected the rain clouds in the overcast sky. I confided how I was mired in the middle of my story.
“What should I do?” I asked.
My daughter thought it over. “If I was the main character, I would go to my best friend.”
It seemed like such a simple action, but it cut through the dense confusion that I almost cried from relief.
Immediately, 50 pages disappeared from the manuscript. I started writing where my daughter suggested and a whole new middle unfolded effortlessly.
By the time I reached the third act, the characters had evolved and the conflict needed a new resolution. What was I going to do? I loved the original ending. It was strong. It was unconventional. But it no longer worked.
I had to write a new ending.
Is the second draft perfect? Hardly. But it is one step closer on the road toward publication.