Third drafts, I find, can be somewhat geological. With the story and characters --mostly-- what they will be, I now come across veins, lodes, and layers of theme and mood, character and development. Through rewrite and revision I can polish and clarify, connecting and revealing these things. It’s like discovering secrets within my own book. The third draft is also a good time for digging deeper into historical research and map work—fine-tuning details of background and location.
After this, in the drafts that follow, a painterly metaphor might better describe the process— working with subtle tints and brushstrokes that will bring out detail, shadow, and highlights.