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  • Writer's pictureJenia Browne

Drafting and Editing

Orange and blue cover of Mouths of Rain, edited by Briona Simone Jones
Mouths of Rain Book Cover

With a solid outline, drafting was a lot easier than expected, but it still had its difficulties. I was lucky enough to do a good amount of it in Puerto Rico, which had much more encouraging weather than Boston. Overall, the drafting process taught me a lot about how to better prepare myself to write in the future.

The most difficult part of going from outline to paper was formulating my argument. I spent a lot of time during the outline and note taking process collecting and organizing information. Since I was using four different books and each had a large number of smaller pieces, it was important to keep everything in order. But this also took up a lot of time that could've been used outlining my argument. I chose quotes from each story I was using and put them on the outline, with short notes about how they supported my argument. In retrospect, I wish I had spent more time outlining what I was actually arguing. This would have made the analysis part of writing much easier.

Speaking of analysis, it is always the hardest part of writing for me. It isn't that I struggle with thinking of an argument, but I struggle with outlining the how and why. A lot of times, I assume my argument is too simple or can't find the words to support my argument without seeming repetitive. I also struggle with writing for my audience, as a lot of times, I don't know who my audience is. This paper required some summary, as the context of the pieces I chose was obviously important to understand the argument I was making. But what's too much summary and not enough analysis? What does it mean when summary and analysis are intertwined? How do I find that balance? I worked hard to try to expand my argument as much as possible, but I am still working on adding more and understanding that in this case, more is better than less.

Most of Dr. Régine's comments were about this. There were a lot of areas where I could expand on the resistive nature of the text where I hadn't, a lot of times because I struggled with wording what I was trying to say. The words 'resistive' and 'resistiveness' were rolling around in my head endlessly and didn't even sound like real words anymore. Figuring out how to expand while adding meaning to the sentences felt more difficult than usual. This is the first time I've written this long of a paper on literature, and it's the most books that I've used for an essay. I think this adjustment was a lot more significant than I expected. I am glad that I choose this task though, because now I know I can do it.

The second part of drafting that was most difficult was the formatting of the essay. How did I want to divide my sections? By story? Author? Topic? I had already decided to split my paper first by topic, then by story. But I struggled with how to format my headings and still create a flow within the paper. This was the second part of Dr. Régine's comments. I started with each story having its own heading, but admittedly, this revealed the length of each section and how they were pretty uneven. It also meant that I could avoid transition sentences, which was a bit of a cop out on my part. I had to go back and remove the piece by piece headings and blend my argument together better. In some ways, this helped me understand the connection between each argument. With more flow, my thoughts became more cohesive,

I am still working on drafting and editing. Editing is a time consuming process that I admittedly skip pretty often. It's hard to get out of the habit of finishing a paper and turning it in as it is. Editing has been an arduous process for this reason. It's also the longest paper I've written, with it currently reaching 22 pages. But honestly, most of my disdain for editing comes from fear. I tend to get into my head and forget that nothing will ever be totally perfect. I'm a bit insecure about the tone of the piece and I wonder if I can reword enough by the end of the semester to feel more confident in it. My writing feels choppier than it usually is, but I'm hoping that's just a me thing. With Dr. Régine's edits and a few other eyes on my paper, I'm hoping to produce a great final product and cannot wait to share it!


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