Thursday, 17 July 2008

Giving a First Draft a Second Look

Last month I finished my latest novel and set it aside for a while. It's a horror novel set in Civil War Missouri and since I'll be in Missouri in August and September, I figured I'd do the second draft there. I want to walk the woods where much of the action takes places to get a feel for the landscape that's difficult to capture from memory alone. I find it's best to leave a draft sitting for a while before coming back to it with fresh eyes.

Well, my flight from Madrid to London was delayed by four hours yesterday so I got back into editing it. I went through the four chapters I happened to have printed out, which are middle chapters in the novel. I didn't find too much to change--a few minor bits of rearranging, some changes of phraseology, and some typos. Now I'm thinking, was that enough? Surely there must be more I need to do on a first draft! Perhaps I haven't let it sit long enough. I'm up in London and Oxford for the next three weeks working on an entirely different project (a book proposal on early firearms) so I'll let it sit again until I get to Missouri. Unless, of course, the Tube gets delayed for four hours.


Minnette Meador said...

I let my first one sit for twenty years, Sean, but that's prett extreme. Now, I can't let them sit for long at all due to deadlines. I usually let it sit for 4-6 weeks. Hey, if it's still looking good, go with it...or at least get it over to your critiquing partner and let them have a go.

BTW, you wouldn't happen to know anything about ancient gladiatorial weapons would you? (First Century Rome & Roman Britannia) I've got an ARMA field scholar I'm working with on fighting techniques, but am just curious.

Good luck with the new project! M:)

Sean McLachlan said...

Hi Minnette!

Well, I'm only just starting on the second draft, so there will be plenty more editing to go before I submit it. I hope to send it to agents this winter, but not too close to holidays.

I know some info about gladitorial weapons, but no more than any other layman who has done a bit of reading on the subject, so you probably know a lot more than me by now. If you want to timewarp a Civil War guerrilla into the ring, then I can help you!

It's interesting to note that not all Romans approved of the games. In fact, many intellectuals considered them barbaric. A bit like bullfighting in Spain. People either love it or think of it as a national embarassment.

Minnette Meador said...

2nd draft? Yep, lots of time! Good luck with the submissions...I know you'll do great!

Hmmmm, Civil War guerrillas and Roman soldiers, with a mix of gladiators thrown in. We might have something here, Sean. Let's collaberate!!! ~LOL~ I knew that about the Romans and the games...the historian I've been working with equated it with WWF Wrestling today. It had a huge fan base, but no one of any ranking admitted it! We are soooo much like the Romans. The more I research, the more I am finding this is true. Especially, from the military side. My new book has a lot of those elements in it...the Roman soldiers (not the senators or upper mucky mucks) thought they were there to help the populace become more civilized and to end oppressive practices by local chief and kings. Sound familiar? M:)

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.