Friday, April 20, 2018

A to Z - All Thing Writing: Rewriting

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

R is for Rewriting 

This is the stage where the magic happens. You've written the end on your first draft. You've read it over and made some notes. Maybe you've done that post-draft outline I mentioned earlier this month or you have your original outline to refer to. Now its time to hit the ground running and clean up this mess.

Rewriting is crucial step if you've picked up an old draft with the intent to finish it or have added a bunch of scenes to a previously 'finished' piece.

My favorite method of rewriting works like this:

1. Save a copy of the first draft as draft two. This preserves all your precious original words for posterity. While I do this to make myself feel better, like I have a safety net if I screw something up along the way, I've never resorted to going back to the first draft again. Nevertheless, it frees up your conscience for rewriting.

2. If the draft doesn't totally suck, (like this is your fifth or sixth novel and you've got this writing thing down somewhat AND the first draft wasn't a bear to write), you might choose to carefully read over every line scene by scene, consider what needs to be changed while consulting your notes and outline and proceed through the book.

2A. Or, as is often the case for me, there are a lot of changes that need to be made. To prevent writing a frankennovel (created when too many bits and pieces are frantically sewn together) I rewrite the entire thing. Yes, every word. Starting at the top of the document, paragraph one, I write the new paragraph one below it, delete the old on and proceed to the next paragraph. You're probably thinking this sounds like a hell of a lot of work. Really, it's not. You're not having to think so much about putting a whole draft together now. It's about making what you already have, better.

What should you be looking for while rewriting?

• Word choice - can you say things clearer or without so many words?

• Voice - the frame of mind in which you started the book and where it ended are probably different. Now that you know the ending and all the leads up to it, you can go through make it cohesive.

• Description - if you didn't add much of that the first time around, now's the time. There's also the possibility that you only discovered what some of the setting, characters, and gizmos were in the middle or end of the book and they need to be added into the beginning.

• Plot fixes - this includes adding scenes to properly foreshadow events or introduce characters, ironing out scenes, cutting subplots that didn't end up being needed, etc.

Keep in mind that this isn't a pass where you should be super focused on typos and micro edits. This step is about getting the story itself into shape. Edits after this stage will add polish.

Do you rewrite or skip right to editing?

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  1. Rewriting--this takes a lot of work.

  2. Hi Jean - re-writing I hate it - yet it makes obvious sense ... but enjoy your word 'frankennovel' ... clever word! Cheers Hilary

  3. I make edits and rewrite at the same time, at least, I seem to be doing that without thinking which is probably not the ideal way to do rewrites but sometimes that's how it goes. of course, I have yet to really finished a piece of work so maybe it's not a good method.

    have a lovely day.

    my latest a-z is: random life thoughts

  4. I haven't done much rewriting as much as editing. But right now, I am working on nonfiction (dissertation) and rewrites were required by the peer review. It is a lot of work...

    The Multicolored Diary: Weird Things in Hungarian Folktales


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