I’m not sure where I read this but someone likened the process of writing a novel to that of creating a sculpture.
The first draft is the back-breaking business of quarrying rock. You end up with a dirty, ugly lump of granite, but at least it’s there. Preliminary research, the basic plot, the characters and settings are there, even if only sketched in. You have become familiar with this block of work. It’s what you want, and you know what you have to do next.
The second draft is shaping the rock into a sculpture. Research continues, the story arc, the characters and settings are fleshed out. Pace and tension, twists and turns are developed.
The third draft is akin to polishing the sculpture into a finished work that shines and is ready for the exhibition. Only not quite. Next comes editing, proofreading, formatting, cover design, the back cover blurb… until finally you’re ready to press the Publish button.
Dark Ocean, my second novel in the Angus McKinnon series, is getting towards the end of stage one. I’m pretty much there with the first draft. Still a way to go though.