Whittle Whittle Whittle

When I was a new writer I didn’t know how to rewrite. Reading published prose I admired made me feel like a failure. My first drafts seemed miles away from reaching that level.

Then instead of reading like a reader, I started to read like a writer.  By analyzing other writers’ works in layers, I could more clearly see the weaknesses in my own writing. I dedicated a draft (or more) for each element. In doing so, the rewriting process didn’t seem overwhelming.


I break down my revision process this way:

  • Structure
  • Characters (I dedicate a draft for every major character and  most of the minor ones, too.)
  • Setting
  • Sensory Details
  • Similes and Methphors
  • Strong Verbs and Nouns


Throughout each draft, I continue “polishing” the sentences, checking facts, and mending broken threads. 

A woodcarver begins with a chunk of wood. He whittles, whittles, whittles and eventually he forms that chunk of wood into something beautiful. This same concept can be applied to writing. Each step in the revision process helps transform our rough work into something beautiful.