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  1. Keefaz
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    Keefaz New Member

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    How do you rewrite?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Keefaz, Apr 26, 2008.

    Hi, all.

    I'm brand new here, so I thought I start off with a question that's been bugging me for a while. Once you've completed your first draft how do you go about rewriting? Do you print it out and go through it with a pen? Make changes to the document directly in your word processor? Write it again from start to finish?

    We're often told that we shouldn't admonish ourselves too harshly for producing shoddy first drafts, but if that's the case, how do we make our rewrites as good as they can be?

    Keith.
     
  2. Hulk
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    Hulk Banned

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    I've never done a re-write of any work of mine, but I think I'd probably do it on paper. It'd be easier.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Everyone has his or her own preferences. I can't read my own handwriting (yeah, it's really that bad!), so I make all my notes in a copy of the document on the computer, usually in red font. I also keep a copy of my very first full draft on disk, along with any other drafts I'm about to make major changes to,

    But word processors are much eaiser to work with than paper, in my opinion. You can move entire paragraphs or chapters in seconds, change a character's name in a couple minutes (first names, last names, nicknames), and you don't need to retype an entire page when you decide to add or remove a sentence.

    Especially in the early stages, I'm very likely to throw out entire scenes and add new ones, or even add or discard characters.

    If you beat yourself up because the first draft is a mess, you'll never write anything again. First drafts are to get your initial vision down on paper. Only then will you see what needs to be done to it to turn it into a story!
     
  4. Mr Sci Fi
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    Mr Sci Fi Senior Member

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    I do just that - Rewrite.

    I rewrite the entire piece from start to finish, using my original draft as a guide only. Along the way I'll find that there are a lot of sentences that need to be cut, so I cut them. On a novella, I usually cut anywhere from 5,000 - 7,000 words. I'll also have some new ideas and might incorporate them as well.

    It sounds like a lot of work rewriting something (I'm a slow rewriter, so the rewrite of my 20,000 word story took me about a month) but it's well worth it.

    After the rewrite I'll go through it with a pen and fix up any misspellings, punctuation and anything that sticks out. I'll then post it for critique to get some suggestions for the next draft.

    I'll write one or two more drafts from then, using the advice from my critique. When nothing is blatantly bugging me, I'll proofread.

    It just depends on the piece itself how you rewrite it. Some work you'll find works well with only one rewrite, others you'll need to revise a bit more. I'm working on my third draft of my current novella as we speak, and there's bound to be at least a few more.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keefaz,

    As has been said, you'll find what method works best for you.

    And you're correct that the first draft will need just a wee bit of work:D

    For most folks, onscreen editing has a place but it's difficult to catch everything as effectively. With most folks (in my experience) printouts and attacking it with a pen works best--then go back and insert edits. Problem with printouts is it cost $ in ink and paper.

    Also, make notes on cards or a notebook or a computer file, of minor changes, ideas to implement, dialogue changes, character bits, etc that you want to add/remove/move/alter on further revisions.

    One final thought. Don't think that writing a first draft and then a single revision will be all that's needed. For the vast majority of writers, it takes a bit more. Setting the story/novel aside and coming at it with fresh eyes, having readers or crit partners review it, etc.

    One thing I would recommend highly, is that while you might share your first draft with someone for initial thoughts, don't expect strong critiques based on it. Do at least one revision to clean up glaring errors in plot and character and dialogue--and major spelling and typos etc. Why? Because that is what the crit partners/readers will comment on most, and not really help you with the story and its ultimate quality. Cleaning those up yourself is your job as a writer. You're wasting readers'/crit partners' time, and making them less likely to want to assist you in the future, either by a reread or on another project.

    After you get that information back from readers/crit partners , it is your job to go back and decide what to implement and what not. In the end, it's your work and has to reflect your view of the story and characters. Trying to please everybody can very well end up pleasing nobody, including editors and agents.

    Some writers prefer to try to do it on their own. Maybe it's ego or lack of confidence and they don't want someone else to belittle them or think less of their writing. I'd recommend, honestly, getting at least one outside reader to view your work--someone who is well read and will be honest with you, because they will catch the small things, and bring a POV to the piece as a reader that an author has trouble developing.

    And finally, if someone volunteers or agrees to read a work, but never gets around to finishing it, don't think less of them. They're still your friend, or uncle or teacher (okay, crit partners are a different thing with respect to this follow through, but still) because nobody--not your mom, not your best friend or spouse, not even your agent or your editor will care as much about your writing and your projects as you do.

    I know I rambled a bit, but I hope this helps.

    Terry
     
  6. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I keep my first draft, sav eit into a binder file, and then inside the binder file open another draft and start writing again from scratch. I keep doing that until I'm bored or happy with what I have.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And yourself!

    As to Terry's last point, I'd like to emphasize it and perhaps even beat it to death. Whether it's a poem, a short story, an article for a gardening magazine, or a series of nineteen novels, it is your project, your passion. Reviewing is hard work. If you haven't given critique yet on other writers' work, this may not be obvious.

    It's unrealistic to expect your reviewers to find every weak sentence, every plot inconsistency, every incorrect word usage. Use your review opportunities frugally. Instead of handing out a first draft in its entirety, revise it until you can't find anything else to fix. Then decis=de what section you like the LEAST, and get another pair of eyes to look at it. When you get some useful feedback, apply it not only to the piece you provided for critique, but throughout the entire manuscript. Chances are, you'll have done it more than once.

    Save the critiques on the overall piece until you have the mechanics in good condition: crisp dialogue, concise but vivid description where it is called for, well paced scenes and vital characters. Then when someone can give it a full read withouty getting put off by annoying little writing flaws, they can comment on the story in its entirety.

    And keep track of all the critiques you receive, and even what you offer to others. As much as possible, apply them to new writing as well.
     
  8. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

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    Every time I come back to something I write, I find something to rewrite.

    If you're happy, it's not done. Other people need to read it and feel the same feelings you imagined while writing it. Rewrite until it's over, until you can't do it anymore.

    That's all I can suggest.
     
  9. Keefaz
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    Keefaz New Member

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    I make a copy and start editing the copy, but I'm thinking about starting with a blank document as I'm don't think I'm being harsh enough. I think it's easier to leave stuff in when it's already written, but you might be a bit more ruthless if you're writing again from scratch. I don't know: rewriting, say, a novel from start to finish sounds like a daunting prospect.
     
  10. flashgordon
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    flashgordon Contributing Member

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    Writing is a never ending process. If I read something that I wrote a year ago (and was published) I see all kinds of things that I could improve on. Prior to publication, I will print out the copy and hand edit it. I can't edit very well on the computer screen. And yes, I use a red pen on my own work. I go through this process as many times as I can until the deadline, then I just send it off and hope that the editor or publisher likes it.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...sometimes... most of the time, for longer stuff...

    ...much of the time... i often do both...

    ...never... can't think of a time i've ever done that, not even way back when i first started writing, well over a half century ago... i've always been sure of what i'm writing before i put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, so have had no need to do a total 'rewrite' from word one...

    ...by proofreading that first draft carefully, to find all the minor goofs and then reading it over as if you're your worst enemy, to see if it reads well...

    hope that helps... love and hugs, maia
     

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