Friday, July 11, 2008


Earlier this week I mentioned that every time I write a book it is as if I'm learning to write again. Thank goodness for rituals. There is comfort in returning to a process that has worked in the past. Writing a book is not a science, but a long time ago I created a rewriting plan that worked for me.

I was so overwhelmed with the thought of revising the messy rough draft of my first book. Then I realized I didn't have to accomplish it all in one draft. I could approach revising like a woodcarver who whittles, whittles, whittles until the piece is done. His woodcarving didn't start out beautiful. It began as a chunk of wood. Once I realized I could make my story better draft by draft, I was on the road to mastering revision.

Each draft is dedicated to a different element--structure, characters, strong verbs, sensory details, setting. Except for the second draft, I don't go in any particular order. The second draft is always about structure, and it's the draft I dread. When I'm concentrating on characters, I follow one character's journey through the story. Many times I discover places where I should add a scene with that character or a scene where they should be present.

When I visit schools I emphasize rewriting with the students and show them this process. But today I shared it with you, not just for you, but for me too. I needed to be reminded that a good story happens bit by bit, one draft at a time.

If you want to know more of my writing tips, please visit my Writing Tips page on this website.

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