I had to learn the hard way the purpose of the second draft. 

My first novel, a magically realistic family chronicle that I never published, was truly awful. In my mind, the entire story was about one thing that the reader either got or didn’t get. It was like an intelligence test. 

What a stupid idea to base your book on. 

My second full-length, Shedding, I did publish, but I’m not very proud of it. I wanted it to be an unconventional love story that would challenge the readers beliefs about right and wrong. I gave the first draft to my spouse to read. I could tell he didn’t like it from two things: it took him forever to read beyond the first ten pages, and he literally told me he didn’t want to be my test audience anymore. 


All this, of course, was before I learned that the sole point of the second draft was to make it look like you knew what you were doing all along. And I had failed to see it that way. I never knew we were not only allowed but supposed to polish the script after the first draft. 

In retrospect, I think both those novels have a problem of being full of little things, little details and illogicalities that turn the story into a mush. I could have fixed it – I could have organized the mush into something more substantial, or wipe it out of the way of the main story – but I didn’t. And the story suffered. 

Write the first draft as fast as you can. Just get it out, vomiting style. You can figure everything out in the second.