Twenty five thousand words into Stealing Light, and I've realised something I'd been vaguely aware of for a while without consciously formulating it, at least until now: that the first draft of a novel is not in fact a novel. Instead, it's a highly complicated set of notes towards a novel.

There is indeed no point in adjusting on a minute level the text of that first draft (at least for me and many, if not all, writers), because that first draft is merely an expression of the ideas in your outline. Some bits will go, others will stay. I've heard Neal Stephenson suggest to the contrary that the first draft is where all the action is, that the first draft is effectively, bar a number of adjustments, the completed novel: but all that tells you is the amount of preparation he puts into the planning stage.

Personally, I think writing the first draft, for me, is the planning stage.

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