There’s a scene in one of The Simpsons Hallowe’en specials where Homer is trying to tell the kids a horror story and says something like, “And then she hit him with a golf club!” And they look at him, bored. “Did I mention he always played golf?” “No, Homer.” “Well, anyway, he did. And did I also mention that she was dead?” “You suck, Homer.”
(that’s me paraphrasing because I can’t remember the exact words, and I’m too lazy to look it up)
Well, anyway. I’ve finished the first draft of my next book and while I’m pleased with it, it feels a bit like Homer’s joke. The shock revelations, the lovely resolutions, the imagery and themes…well, I know what they are and why they’re so shocking or lovely or whatever–but I fear I’ve forgotten to tell the reader. They’ll get to the end and go, “So…what was that thing about the red tiger?”
I know I’ve written short stories and novellas in the past where I’ve got to the end, spellchecked and pressed Send, without redrafting. But I can’t really get away with that on a 100,000+ book, which takes place over several years and three continents of a total fantasy world. I’ve made maps of this. Maps, I tell you. And coats of arms. What’s that you say? It’s just a form of procrastination? Well, you might be right my friend, but I still need to know whether the Academy is east or west of the Tower (actually it’s north) and which side of the shield the red tiger stands on.
Still, this is what second drafts are for!