I know I have some readers who are aspiring travel memoirists such as I am. So I wanted to write a short post with a peek into the way I revise a rough draft. Every writer’s process is different but this is the way I do it.
As I revise “Hola, Morocha,” I am realizing what a hot mess the rough draft is. You will be happy to know the revising/editing is going well and the book is transforming into something I know you will love. At least, I hope you will love it. I’m working very hard so that you will.
I begin by reading the rough draft of a chapter through and mark off where I believe the writing could be stronger or descriptive. I think the best way to show you what I mean is by example. Because I’ve created a safe space on this blog and I don’t mind being vulnerable in front of my readers, I’m sharing something I would never share on another blog:
This is a paragraph as it was written from the rough draft version of a chapter:
Before: “I saw another guy watching us. I had seen him pointing in our direction. He called us over. We introduced ourselves. He asked me were I was from and I told him. He had short black hair and stood about five feet seven inches tall. He had bright brown child like eyes.”
The problem with this paragraph is that it’s generic. The sentences are too short and they have a “and then and then and then” quality to them. Also, it’s not very creative or descriptive. It does not pull the reader in like it should or paint a clear picture of the Argentine male well. The bottom line is that this paragraph is just—at the risk of sounding very nineties here—wiggity wiggity wack.
Now this is how I fixed it. I had to go back in my mind and put myself back in the moment and remember as much as I could about it. Then I had to re-tell it in the most descriptive and evocative way as possible:
After: “I noticed an attractive Argentine guy standing with a friend watching us. He glanced at me and he kept his eyes locked on my face as he leaned into his friend to whisper something in his ear. He pointed in our direction, causing his friend to glance at me too. Even from across the floor I could tell they were sizing me up. A second later, the attractive Argentine called us over.
As we introduced ourselves, the conversation began in Spanish. I stood back and let Jen and her friend Kelly—who I had just met that night and instantly clicked with—take the lead. Kelly and Jen were both fluent in Spanish. I was not. The attractive Argentine inched closer to me, his arms crossed in that relaxed bad boy way. He was a pretty boy. His hair was short and raven black, molded perfectly into his style with gel. He stood five feet seven inches tall and wore a jacket with a collar that stood. I saw the evidence of his Italian ancestors in the coloring of his skin and the ebony lining his lashes; it brought out the light brown of his eyes almost making them appear hazel.”
See? It’s much better, no? The paragraph paints a stronger picture for the reader, which is always important for a piece of writing to do. I know I will probably do more tweaking to it when I do another read through after all the revising is complete, but I just wanted to give you a little peek into my process. I hope this is helpful! :0)