1. chr0nic
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    chr0nic New Member

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    Complete rewrite, or arduous editing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by chr0nic, Sep 17, 2011.

    Hello all :)

    First real question, but a big one for me as it will determine how I spend the next '?' months.

    I have a complete book- plot, characters, subplots and all- in my head. I've gone through the story countless times and have refined it to a point where I believe it to be as perfect as I can make it. Years ago I began to write. I've got down approx. 65,000 words and am perhaps 2\3 through the novel.

    However, I have found myself in an awkward position- I put the book on hold for a year (severe motivational issues) and upon rereading my work I was disappointed. The issues that are currently popping up are telling instead of showing (in some parts), sentence structure, overuse of "he said smugly" or "she said happily" (I've been scolded for using this too often) and minor punctuation errors (semi-colons, hyphens etc.).

    Which brings me to the question: would it be better to sit down and spend hours and hours pre-editing what I have or should I leave it "as-is" and finish the manuscript? I would HATE to finish the story, take it to an editor and have him\her say "there is too much editing here, you've written a bunch of rubbish- take it away".

    Thoughts? Anything at all would be greatly appreciated... I know that there are too many factors for a definitive answer, but any advice would be happily taken on board... :cool:
     
  2. Batgoat
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    Batgoat Senior Member

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    If I was in your position, I'd write the last third, and then go through the whole thing and edit it. Take out the "smuglys" and the "happilys" and refine the punctuation and improve the story. I wouldn't write a first draft and then try and palm that off to be published. You'd be better off having pruned and proofed your first draft a few times before that stage so that what the publisher receives needs very little editing.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's no way for us to decide. Only you can guess which route makes more sense for your editing disposition and the quantity of work needed to fix your current draft.
     
  4. Alex W
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    Alex W Contributing Member

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    If the user is asking for help Cogito, we might aswell!

    I personally would read each chapter and edit it, if you're beginning to get bored after a few hours then leave it for a day and then come back and continue editing. At some point you'll be happy with it all and you'll more than likely start paying attention to sentance structure while writing after all that editing.

    It would also help if you start to edit after every chapter, it might seem like it's slowing you down but it'll help.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    FINISH! My vote is 100 percent on finishing first. Go back later. I don't know the details of your book's quality, but probably some parts will need to be totally rewritten and other parts will just need minor tweaks (this is always the case with my first versions). That's the experience I always have, at least. Good luck, and mozeltov to you for getting that far. :D
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This implies - and I may be misunderstanding - that you're assuming that when you've finished the first draft, you'll send it to an editor/agent. I wouldn't assume that - I'd assume that whether you finish and then edit, or edit and then finish, you'll still have an early draft and there will be more editing passes before the manuscript is ready to submit.

    Edited to add: But if I had to pick one? I'd choose, finish and then edit. A completed story is a completed story and, IMO, has more value (even if at this point that value is only to you) than a somewhat more polished partial story.

    ChickenFreak
     
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  7. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Well, since you say you had motivation issues writing the first part in your position I would just finish it first. In my own experience when I go back and read something and decide I want to edit a bunch I get so bogged down in editing I would lose what I was originally going for and I'd end up scrapping it out of frustration. What works for me may not work for you. Go with what you feel is best for you. :)
     
  8. chr0nic
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    chr0nic New Member

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    Thanks everyone, most wise... I'll knuckle down and finish, with minor revisions after each chapter. Then tackle the editing afterwards. I guess the "bright side" is that I'll be happier with the latter third than the former :)

    I appreicate all the responses, really. Thank you all :D
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have to disagree with others here. You reread your stuff and found consistent problems. That means you're a better writer now than you were then, and I think you shouldn't want to just spackle over the problems. You should probably rewrite from scratch.

    I wrote a whole first draft of a novel twenty years ago, but when I look at it now, it's mostly crap. I did some things beautifully, but most things kind of badly. I decided to rewrite the whole thing from scratch, using the skills I'd learned since I started writing the thing. I'm much happier now with the way it's turning out. Everything about it is better.

    I've set it aside for a bit while I write some short stories for a class I'm taking, but when I get back to it, I'm going to be much more enthusiastic about it than I would be if I was just patching here and there.

    Don't be afraid to rewrite from scratch. You're probably better now than you were, and you shouldn't just be patching things up. You should be re-envisioning your story. Take the opportunity to make it great!
     
  10. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I put something aside for a good three years, and then went back to it. I too wasn't happy with how things were.

    So I extended the ending, got rid of a boring prologue, and then went about editing the hell out of the whole thing.

    That's just what worked for me.

    Hope you find what works for you.
     
  11. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    You could try rewriting the story alongside the previous version using sections of the original manuscript but reshaping alongside newly created segments. This may encourage you to write more precisely and improve on the way you have written. Either way, it's great you have so much writing already prepared so congrats and good luck :)
     
  12. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I WAS in your position in the beginning of this year (more or less when I joined this forum btw) and I completely rewrote my entire novel from scratch. I also realised it needed to take another direction so because of that a rewrite was called for. It's easier to get the ending you want if the tone and all the rest is right. My advice is therefor to rewrite it all and to enjoy seeing how the whole novel will be much better which will be another reason to finish it. good luck.
    ps. how mine went? I finished it a couple of weeks ago, after several rewrites and editing. it's a totally different story now, in a positive sense. :)
    edit: you can also do like lost in fiction said and use the parts you really liked from the old one of course. (I did that too)
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    instead of working overtime trying to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse, i'd advise using the old flawed version simply as a story guide and starting from scratch... the main reason being that if your work from way back when is so substandard, so must be the plot and storyline, characters, etc....

    so i'm willing to bet that by starting over, you'll end up with a very different [and much better] book than the one you want to merely 'edit to death'... and i'm also willing to bet that if you do just try to fix up the old stuff, that's exactly what you'll be doing--editing it to death...
     
  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think you've brought up a fairly common issue. I've done both. In the first draft I just finished, I had actually been about 30,000 words in when I realized that there were some significant problems because I hadn't thought everything through, and new ideas had occurred to me as I wrote. So I went back and started over. I would base my decision on what you see as the problems. If the story structure is sound, but there are lots of style issues, I'd edit what you've got. If there are major issues with the structure of the story itself or the narrative is generally substandard (in your view), then starting over is probably the better course. Either way, there will be multiple rounds of editing to do when you're done. Good luck.
     
  15. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Sounds like you haven't even finished your first draft yet. If that's the case, then you 1.) need to finish what you've started; 2.) ignore the quality (it is a first draft, after all); 3.) need to take the manuscript through at least two more drafts before even thinking of presenting it to an editor.
     
  16. chr0nic
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    chr0nic New Member

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    Wow, cheers to everyone for the replies... looks like I've got some serious thinking to do :)

    There is tons of good advice here- and thank you to those who shared the paths they themselves took... it helps to know what has worked in the past (and what has not :D)

    Thanking you all!

    -RGB-
     

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