Today's Guest Post Brought To You By S. P. Bowers

Hi Sara! Thanks for guest posting today!

Sara, who blogs over at her space subtitled it's just me, was kind enough to drop by to talk about... Manuscripts.

Hmm, how'd that wine glass get there?

Take it away, Sara:

Like many of you I have a few novels tucked away in my virtual desk drawer. I sincerely hope most of them never again see the light of day. I'll admit to some pretty bad writing. Made worse by the fact that I didn't think I needed to rewrite. Don't laugh, I was young and naive. While I did try edits on a few of them my current novel is the first one I have really put this much effort into rewriting.

I heard Kiersten White say "Ideas are captured in first drafts but books happen in editing." I firmly believe this. Look at your old novels. Any of them read more like a series of scenes about the same people than a real book? Or do they still resemble brain spew from NaNo?

First drafts are wonderful. I love drafting. I love the rush that comes with being bombarded by a dozen new ideas at once. I love the newness of the experience. But where drafting is the honeymoon, glorious and wonderful (ok, I was horrendously sick on my honeymoon but I hear some of them are glorious and wonderful) editing is a marriage. Sure it may have morning breath and you may be sick of all the dishes in the sink but it's the living and working together that gives us a deep understanding and love of each other.

It's only when we get to know our novel, word after horrible word, inside out and upside down that we are able to form it into a cohesive whole. Otherwise known as a book.


Sarah McCabe said…
Hmmm... I would maintain that many writers' first drafts look like brain spew BECAUSE things like Nano and other writers encourage them to write their first drafts that way. As for Kiersten White's quote... I'm glad she's had success but I'd rather listen to someone more experienced.

Stories are written in first drafts and sanitized by rewriting.

Not that a certain amount of editing isn't needed (A LOT less than the average author has been taught to think) but rewriting is just by its nature destructive. And I don't believe you can create beauty through destruction.
Zan Marie said…
Sarah, as opposed to Sara, ; )

Some writers' rough drafts are better than others. Each of us has to find our way through the mass of ideas that develop into books.

I'm afraid mine are a bit messy, though they are getting better. Here's to progress, no matter how we accomplish it.
Deirdra A. Eden said…
You have a fabulous blog! I'm your newest follower. I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: Powerful Woman Writer Award for all the hard work you do!

Go to and pick up your award.
Jill W. said…
Hey Spesh,

Yay for guest posts!

I think White's words are pretty spot on. Nobody's first drafts are perfect (or saleable).

James Scott Bell tweeted this earlier today and I liked it:

"The idea phase is falling in love. The first draft is marriage. Rewriting is marriage counseling."

S.P. Bowers said…
Sarah, I’d have to disagree that rewriting is destructive. For me, and others I’ve talked to, rewriting is construction, taking the building blocks that were created in the first draft and making something with them. But everyone’s process is different and we all have to find the process that works for us.

Thanks for your way of looking at things. It’s good to remember that everyone is different.
S.P. Bowers said…
Zan, I agree that we each need to find our own way and that some of us are just better at first drafts than others. Hopefully we all improve overtime. That is the goal after all.
S.P. Bowers said…
Jill, marriage counseling? That's kinda funny. I could have used some durring my last rewrite....
Deniz Bevan said…
Thanks again Sara!
I think it would be interesting to be able to write slowly, and edit each word and sentence as it comes, but I just don't seem to be able to do that. I barrel through first drafts and only fix things on endless rounds of revision...