That pretty much sums up my first draft.
And my second.
Then the thing starts to perk up.
Can you tell I'm deep in revision mode?
The story that was inside my mind has been drafted. It's been shuffled around. The fluff and stuffing I needed while transferring the story from my mind to the page has been purged. The missing pieces of character and plot have been found and put in the correct order.
At least this is where I should be at the end of second draft. As it turns out, this story hasn't followed any normal path to reach this point.
Due to circumstances entirely beyond my control - including the unplanned arrival of a high-energy puppy, a move, and two emergency surgeries on a family member - I needed two drafts to be where I should have been at the end of the first one because I lost focus so many times.
So I'm on Draft 3 now. Pulling out fluff and stuffing by the handful. Inserting bits of character and plot. Making sure the motivation and goals are clear. Building lots more tension on the page. Tightening as I go. The incident on page 85 now shows up well before page 50.
When I finish this draft, the real work will begin. Getting deeper into point of view will tweak the voice, which will tinker with things like dialogue and description. I'll need to find all those pesky overused words. Play with sentence structure and stronger words that still keep to the character's voice and overall tone. Pacing - where I need to jiggle with the ups and downs, the suspense and release.
After all that, I'll read it aloud to catch things I missed. I usually find a lot.
I still have an ugly duckling right now, but it won't be long before my vision starts taking shape. But one day, after lots of help from my critique partners and months of revision and editing, my ugly duckling will grow up and be refined enough to venture out.
It won't yet be a beautiful, graceful swan ... that's what good editors are for.
But it's on the way.