The first draft is difficult for me. Fun, but difficult. I don’t outline so the story unfolds based on a “loose” outline I have, and the characters themselves drive the plot. Sometimes you don’t realize what you’re going to write until the story sparks an idea. Sometimes you hit road blocks. You are a free to write anything…so what makes “this” scene the right one? What if I had them do “this” instead? I get a Spidey-sense on the direction of the story, I suppose. It still isn’t easy, though.
Having just started on the 2nd draft of Dustland, I’m having a lot of fun and it’s far less difficult. Why? You have a much clearer picture of the entire story and characters. Things you wrote in the beginning during your first draft don’t quite fit with the latter end of the story, so you’re smoothing out all the wrinkles to make it nice nice. Plus, this is the time to take that unrefined prose you put down just to keep the story moving and fine-tune it. Now you’re adding little details, color, tone, contrast, VOLUME. You’re taking what’s essentially a black and white photo of a rock and turning it into a HD panoramic of the Grand Canyon.
Working on the 2nd draft is also a lot of fun because once you’re done with it, you can now feel comfortable putting into the hands of a few readers to give feedback. And of course, into the hands of your editor who will make sure to red-mark all the things you thought were totally awesome, but plainly isn’t. 🙂
2nd draft should be done by early November!