Six years ago, I completed Draft 11 of Book 1 of the Epic Novel. After five years and eleven drafts, I was so sick of that story, I wanted to throw it out the window. I put it away before I'd even finished typing the draft. This spring, when I began working on the Epic Novel once more, I went straight to Book 2, knowing I need to figure out the rest of the story before I can redraft Book 1.
A few weeks ago, I had the sudden urge to reread that old Draft 11. The draft was horrible--I mean, very, very rough. I made myself laugh with all of my "He tilted his head quizzically" and "He raised his eyebrows skeptically." The text was all floating dialogue and action. Very little description or character development. Many scenes did not need to be included. They did not move the plot forward or reveal character. Even I became confused with the plethora of characters, and I had created them all. When I thought about it, I immediately counted eight extraneous characters. So, not my best work.
At the same time, I wrote the draft before I had ever had any formal instruction in creative writing. I could tell when I had taken Comp II at college because the writing drastically improved at that point. The draft wasn't great, but it was a rough draft, and one I needed to write to explore the story.
The more I read, the more I became amazed with this story. The story is there, the characters are there. They just need work. I know I have to make some tough decisions: which characters do I cut? Which ones really are unnecessary, as much as I love them? How much of the characters' complicated back-stories is necessary for the reader to understand motivation, and how much is just too much?
I'm excited. I have already learned so much from this story. Someday, I'll finish it, and I hope that others learn as much from it as I have.