Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Writing is Rewriting

"Writing is Rewriting."

I tried to find who said these words, but it seems a number of writers are given credit for them. I always thought it was Hemingway but I couldn't find the exact quote.

It doesn't matter. The point is I've never totally understood this.

I've spent years writing, doing a little editing, letting others read and critique my story, edit some more, and then submit. I've only been published once. I now see that this is not enough.

I've never claimed writing to be an easy task, but my writing deserves more work on my part. I've been fiddling with a rewrite of a story that has been rejected more than once. I'm in the process of polishing it up now and it hit me like a cold shower. Each time I hit the delete button. Each time I add another sentence. This is a good story, but I had failed to mold it into a wonderful story. I now realize that the rewriting process is just as important as the creation.

Below you will find my thoughts on the writing and rewriting process.

The drafting process, which is different for every writer, is only the beginning. (You may write a brilliant story, but it needs to be edited to death before you have a chance of getting published.)

The first step after creating your story in the first draft is to step away. Work on something else. Do Not edit the next day. You need to have distance between you and the writing. Do Not let other people read this first draft. Their efforts will be pointless. At this stage, there is still so much more to do. (Some writers can achieve distance from their writing quicker than others. The time allowed will be a personal preference.)

Once you've gained distance from your story, the next step is revisions. Revising is about looking at the big picture. (Adding, Rearranging, Removing, Replacing) Read through your story, taking notes as you go. Look for inconsistencies, scenes that aren't needed, characters that should be slashed or added. Is there enough tension? Is the pacing the way you want? Using your notes, rewrite. If needed, step away, and repeat the above procedures.

The next step is editing. Look for misused words, overused words and phrases, unneeded words. Every writer has at least one word that appears over and over again. Find that word and replace it in as many occurrences as possible. Check for misspelled words. Change passive verbs to active verbs. Check punctuation. Gage the pacing of your story. Are your sentences lengths varied?

Reading your work out loud can also help find mistakes. If you do corrections on computer, try printing out a copy and editing. Some writers find errors easier to see this way.

When you feel the writing is at its best, then it's time to let someone else read it. You will most likely find that fresh eyes will notice things you've overlooked, even after all of this editing. Take the advice given in the critiques or leave it. Not all advice is good, so you will need to weed through it.

Go through and correct what is needed.

Is it time to send it off to a publication? NO. Let it sit for at least a day. Reread it. Correct anything thing that catches your eye.

Now, it's time to submit.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this process, or let us know your techniques for molding a great story.


Terry W. Ervin II said...

For me, one of the most time consuming efforts is to make sure things are consistent and logical. This slows the writing process, but like you indicated, it can make a good story a great one.

Anonymous said...

Terry, thanks for the comment. I am finding that the work begins after the first draft.

Lynn Andrade said...

Fantastic article! I totally agree, every writer needs to put in a lot of "elbow grease" to make a good story great. :D

Anonymous said...

Hey Lynn. Haven't seen you in a while. Hope things are good.

Lynn Andrade said...

Hey Cher, sorry I haven't been by in a while. My life shifted into crazy mode for a bit and I've been away from home and computers. :) Things are good, though. Hope everything is well with you. :)

Anonymous said...

Lynn, Glad everything is going good. Everything's good here also.

Cyber Writer said...

Not sure were to post this...I wanted to say thank you for your kind comment about my interview on Katie's blog. I really like your blog and I love the title.

Anonymous said...

Karen, Thank you so much for coming by. The interview was great. Thanks for the compliment on my blog. Hope to communicate with you more in the future.

Blog Directory