The Words Versus the World

Announcement: I’ve started rereading my draft, preparing for the inevitable rewriting process. Remember how I said I was hopeful that this draft would be the last, and all that I thought I needed to do was make some adjustments? Well.. I think this picture says it all:


Note: I found this picture on Pinterest.

Except, of course, it’s my fourth draft and I feel like I should be better than this by now. Upside: while researching some tips for editing, I stumbled across a blog, called Terrible Minds, that I somehow managed to actually relocate for this post. It’s titled “25 Things You Should Know About Revising and Rewriting.” There’s a lot of cursing in it, sort of like that foul-mouthed-but-somehow-inspirational drill sergeant you always see in the movies, but if you’re not into that sort of thing, I’ll just summarize which part of the post really drew my attention.

That section was called Evolution Starts as Devolution. Here’s a quote:

Here is a common, though not universal, issue: you write a draft, you identify changes, and you choose a direction to jump — and the next draft embodies that direction. And it’s the wrong direction. Second draft is worse than the first draft. That’s fine. It’s a good thing. Definition through negative space. Now you can understand your choices more clearly. Now you know what not to do and can defend that.

The good news is that the story is there.  I’m reading, I’m taking notes, and now I know exactly what I have to do to get the next draft right. I think the most difficult part of rewriting is that it’s not just about putting this story idea onto paper. I think that, if you’re doing it right, it’s not just a story. Writers often speak of how amazing and beautiful it is to have a completely made-up world rolling around in your head, and of course this is true. It’s just… if you think that having an entire world – a thing with its own cultures, its own fashions, its own lifestyles – is intimidating, don’t forget that you also have a handful of characters, all of whom have their own personality, their own history, their own favorite words and colors and clothes, their own ideal romance… well, you get the point. It’s a LOT of information to keep track of.

And when you’re trying to incorporate all of this information into the story, on top of the plot and the setting and all that, is it really any wonder that a person’s writing suffers for it? I can’t imagine that I’m the only one struggling with this.

The point is, you have to keep editing and revising as needed, over and over again, until not only is the story right, but the words are right too. Which is where the Terrible Minds blog post comes in. You just have to keep experimenting, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and cobbling together all that information into a semi-presentable piece of art.

So that’s what I’m focusing on now. I’m going to try to make the mistakes of my last draft count, so that this next draft can be that much better for it.


2 thoughts on “The Words Versus the World

  1. It’s so hard to tell when your manuscript is “complete.” Some people say they edit in four drafts only and then that’s it. I don’t get how people can do that. I think I have about two or three more drafts of my own novel before it’ll be “ready,” but even then something else might come up.
    Good luck with your revisions!


    1. Thank you Rachel! I wouldn’t even know how to guess if this next draft will be my last one or not, but I guess I’ll get there when I get there. Good luck on your own revisions 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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