The 2nd Draft

This past week, I've started working furiously on the second draft of my novel - the same story I was working on last November. There have been several significant changes, chief among them being that I know a LOT more about the world this story is supposed to take place in. I love character-driven stories, but that doesn't mean I should let my setting just be a painted backdrop for the action. There's a lot more to a world than that.

For the first draft, I said "Lost prince has a dragon, and his brother hates his guts. Go." That was about it.

Now that I've figured out the theme/question I want to explore and developed more of the land, the people that live there, and the current political situation (that was the really fun part) I can build a more compelling and focused narrative. A lot of the events will stay the same, but I'm basically rewriting the whole thing from square one.

But here's something I've run into when talking to other writers about the second draft - pretty much everyone expects it to be a slog. There's this pervasive assumption that rewriting what's already been written will be slow, unpleasant, and tedious. I'm not sure I agree, though.

I'm not sorry that I wrote my first draft, and I'm not ashamed of it because it's of sub-standard quality. I don't look back at it and cringe or want to destroy it. I learned loads just from the process of getting it all written down, and my second draft will be all the better for it.

So why aren't there more people that think that way?

If I was going to venture a guess, partially informed by the opinions of others, there's a certain amount of embarrassment that comes with the contrast of hard-won skill and technique with the now-obvious lack of skill demonstrated in older works. A very wise man once told me to go back when I'd finished my manuscript and rewrite the first scene once I was "properly warmed up," because there was a high chance that the narrative style had changed somewhat from the first few sentences to the last chapter.

So, for your reading pleasure, here are some worldbuilding notes. I better get back to it, or I'll start losing momentum. High-ho Silver, away!

Dragons- (Civilized) The majority live on The Island (has different names according to different groups) and run their own independent kingdom. Within the last 50 years, opened up trade with the human kingdom, though before then they had reserved trade for an exclusive agreement with the elves. Major exports are cured wood and basalt. Dragon artisans work almost exclusively in metals, and their work is inherently magical, making it extremely valuable to both humans and elves. The dragons living independently on The Island tend to have a minor bias against those living in [COUNTRY NAME], because the [COUNTRY] dragons are Bonded to Riders, and have a different set of skills and access to different education. They are by and large two separate populations, but family ties are still present enough that visits may occur, though rarely.

Dragons place very high value on agreements, and will honor a contract even if it costs them their life, and so are very cautious about making such agreements. Those who forge Contracts (also called “Blood Promises”) with humans or elves are making an agreement in perpetuity for all their offspring. Such a measure is not taken lightly.

CULTURE/SOCIETY Emphasis on the importance and value of contracts, deals, agreements, etc. Keywords: Honor, obligation, legacy. Extremely traditionalist/conservative, with a strong emphasis on rules and etiquette.

Hierarchical democracy implies a strong community focus and tends toward isolationism. Individuals are chosen by vote within each bloodline (clan, tribe, family) to bear the burden of organization and provision for those under their care. These individuals form a council which then serves as the decision-making body for a term of 1-2 “Seasons,” depending on the stability of the community (the more unstable the times, the longer the terms are). Seasons are stretches of time between the mating flights of key matriarch figures in the largest families, whose cycles generally align pretty closely due to close association.

All dragons can use magic.


The dragons of The Island and [COUNTRY] are Western Dragons, with four legs, two wings, and powerful tails. Typically deep-chested and long-limbed, these dragons are reliant on physical power to fly (their bones are hollow, and their wings are proportionally very large) and so are not suited to long-distance flights, but can comfortably fly for 2-3 hours at a time. Nonstop flights lasting longer than 3 hours are as taxing for a dragon as walking an equal amount of time without pause would be for a human.

Dragons are generally found in shades of black, grey, brown, and green, but may develop scales in natural shades of red, blue, or yellow if exposed to specific diets in their formative years. (Yellow dragons are most common among those that are hatched and raised in the eastern swamp, while blue dragons are generally only found north of the mountains. Red or red-brown dragons are sometimes found on The Island.) These uncommon colors are considered exotic by dragons, and individuals with these colors dominant in their scales may sometimes enjoy a certain amount of celebrity among their peers.

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