Re-writing, Re-writing, Re-writing

I love working on the second rewrite. The obvious problems have been fixed, the spelling and grammar are now correct, except for those sneaky past participles that lurk for several drafts, and I can concentrate on the words. The hard part, the development of the plot is finished, and I can enjoy making the story richer, more interesting, and unique. I love spending 15 minutes finding the precise word I need. I haul out the Oxford English Dictionary, then the Funk and Wagnall’s Standard, then the quick thesaurus on the Word program, and finally Roget’s. I love the choice, the quest for the perfect word. Sometimes, I am flummoxed by the fact that there is only one word for something. Take ‘yawn’. There is no other word for ‘yawn’. If you find one, please let me know. It annoys me that I have to use only that one word. I want the luxury of choice. At this point, I don’t want a deadline either, but I often have one. Without a deadline for completion, I can luxuriate in the search for words. With a deadline I have to make up my mind quickly and move on. Other writers hate this, but I think it’s a joy.

When I have finished this second re-write, I then sit down with the manuscript and a tape recorder and read my story into the tape. I stop the tape and make corrections on the manuscript as I read. I play it back and listen for the rhythm and music of the sentences. I catch mistakes with my ears that I missed with my eyes. Your process of writing may be quite different, but you will devise a “usual” method that allows you to edit your own work. I’d be interested how other writers work out a process so that they can create their best work.

From Writing for Children and Young Adults Self-Counsel Press