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The rough manuscript of "Hola, Morocha!"

The rough manuscript of “Hola, Morocha!”

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)


  1. Nice!! I can’t wait until the book is ready. 2013 will be your breakout year!!


  2. Michaela says:

    Yes! Good descriptions are key. They tell the story with pictures without needing to spell everything out for the reader. I’m watching very closely and learning a lot as I push myself to finish up my book in the next couple of months. Thanks for sharing your journey and tips!

  3. Yes! Get it girl! Thanks for allowing us to see how it is that you do what you do. I’m super proud of you!

    Good work. I am intrigued to see where this scene is heading! 🙂

  4. Diana says:

    Thanks for doing this. You have proven rather well, that taking the time and going back in time to bring forth a memory is well worth it.

  5. Tatiana says:

    I love the way you explained exactly what was wrong and why it was wrong; I also love your use of the phrase “wiggity wiggity wack.” 🙂 You’ve written this scene beautifully and I’m very much looking forward to reading Hola, Marocha!

    • Jennifer says:

      Aaaaaw! Thanks, Tatiana! Yeah, I was showing my age with that “Wiggity wiggity wack” phrase. Lol! I can’t wait to finish “Hola, Morocha!” So that you may hold it in your hands! :0)

  6. Tiffany says:

    I’ve been so engrossed in your blog over the past few days. I studied abroad in Argentina from August -December 2012 and I had a BLAST. I definitely can relate to a lot of your observations about the men being quite taken with black women. I’m actually going back in a few weeks to research the Afro-Argentines’ local community organizations in Buenos Aires. Did you have any experiences with any black Argentines while you were there?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Tiffany!
      So nice to meet you! And thanks for checking out the blog! Yes, I did have one experience with an Afro-Argentine when I was there. His name was Lucas and he took me on a date and a motorbike ride through the city! It was a nice night! Your research sounds interesting. Is it for school? Hope all is well with you.

      Jen :0)

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