1. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    Rewriting versus editing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MissRis, Apr 18, 2012.

    Hi all;

    I'm a new member, but I have been working on a novel on and off for about two years. Essentially my question is this, what is the main difference between rewriting and editing? People seem to be throwing them around here like they are synonymous, but I have a sneaking suspicion they are not. I have a literature background, so I have a common understand of rewriting a paragraph to make an argument tighter and editing for spelling and grammar.

    Do you write a first draft and then rewrite completely? How many rewrites does one generally go through? I have been writing each chapter like a short story that flows together, so I have been "rewriting" entire chapters over a few weeks. Once you finish, do you go through and rewrite the entire thing?

    Any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I agree with you defination but some people do use them like they are the same thing. I think of it like calling a van, a car because sometimes we group all vehicles into the "car" catagory.

    As far as your other questions - some people rewrite as the go, others wait until they are finished. That's personal writing style preference. I'm not sure how many rewrites most people go through but I don't think I can count the number I've gone through, and I can count pretty high. :)
     
  3. CH878
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    CH878 Active Member

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    As far as I'm concerned 'editing' a novel includes rewriting. When you edit a first draft, you'll completely rewrite sections and then there'll be others that only need a slight tweak of a word here and there. Spelling and grammar are slightly different as far as I'm concerned, that's more proof-reading to me.

    Of course, you could start again from scratch with a second draft, but I think that approach is a bit pointless because there's usually something of value in a first draft.

    Purely my opinion though and no dictionary definition.
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    In my definition they are separate, I actually rewrite big parts (if not all) of the current novel, saving some bits, adding a lot to make it stronger, develop character, strenghten goal and motivation etc, and when that is done I'll go through the entire thing again for several editing sessions, checking things like verbs, nouns, favourite words, clichees, dialog tags etc, plus a final check of spelling, punctuation and grammar. For me the revision is what makes the bigger changes, adding entire chapters or scenes, developing the plot etc, while the editing is the nitpicking, the choice of words, or correcting typos or grammatical errors.
     
  5. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    Alright this is good information! My difficulty is that I've essentially finished a first draft, but it seems almost pointless to go through and rewrite from scratch since I have put so much effort in chapters already. It actually causes me a bit of panic LOL.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm quite extreme, and I don't say you need to rewrite everything from scratch, I have done that with only one ms before. When I say rewrite, in this case, I mean I simply write it again, referring to the old draft but adding things as i go along to make it more complete, because just looking at it doesn't work for me, I have to write it all over again to "feel" what should be added or changed. Sometimes I exclude some parts too, add scenes and replace the old chapters. Like in my current ms I have made 11 chapters out of what was originally 6, and it's also 5K heavier so far. I think everyone has to find a method that works for them.
     
  7. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    Tesoro - this is wonderful advice. Thank you.
     
  8. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    You seem to be under the impression that rewrites are a mandatory part of writing a novel - not so. You only need to rewrite something if it's not working, or if you've come up with a better idea, or found inconsistencies/plot holes. If everything in your novel works fine and just needs some editing for flow, style and SpaG etc, then you're very lucky. However, the number of novels that actually get away with no rewrites at all are very few and far between, I imagine. Most agents or editors will suggest at least some rewrites.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm a professional editor and i also do rewrites for clients, so yes, they are quite different from each other in what they entail...

    editing is the finding and correcting of mistakes... typos, misspellings, grammar goofs and such... an editor won't make any more significant changes in the writing unless asked to do so by the author [or it's considered necessary in order for the work to be published, if the editor works for the publisher, not the author]...

    rewriting/revising goes much further, consists of doing whatever's necessary to make the writing better/clearer/more dramatic, or whatever... which includes adding or deleting text, rewording, fine-tuning the plot, etc....

    writers who do their own editing and revising/rewriting will often do both at the same time... some will do a technical edit first, then with another read-through, rewrite as needed...
     
  10. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I barely need technical edits at all - to me, getting spelling and grammar and punctuation right first time is part of writing. I will rarely go more than a word or two further in the sentence without correcting a typo. I would certainly never write more than a paragraph of text without going back and cleaning it up.

    So, writing and editing take place at the same time. Re-reading is where the rewriting starts.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm like that too, I correct small typos as I go, but sometimes I miss some of them, like a lost letter somewhere, or where the typo creates another, existing word and therefor escapes the red-mark in Word. I also don't have many grammatical errors in my native language.
    (only thing I seem to get wrong is the swedish versions of some reflexive pronouns, because in third person there are two different ones I sometimes confuse. )
     
  12. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I generally do it all at once. Technically I suppose a rewrite is when you go beyond typos and grammar and sentence structure, and start actually altering some of the story elements. But that's my normal process anyway. I write, and then the next day I'd probably rewrite half of what I wrote the previous day (on a good day!).

    And then when I get to the end of a book, I go through it and see if the story makes sense, if more needs to be added in places or removed elsewhere, and start again. Sometimes I've added in whole new characters after finishing a book, just to add some contrast or interest, slotting them in at dozens of different places in a book, and then proofing to see that there's no continuity problems. Sometimes I'll chuck in an extra chapter here and there to replace something that maybe I covered with a single line previously.

    But that's just me. Do whatever seems to work for you.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  13. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    I agree with mammamaia on the distinction between rewriting and editing, although I think they can overlap slightly - for instance, I'd group removing unnecessary words under editing, not re-writing. In my opinion, rewriting is exactly what it says: you have a passage or paragraph that is awkwardly phrased or doesn't engage the reader, and you rewrite the passage with new words, a new opening, a new ending, whatever. As to rewriting, I tend to rewrite the beginning of stories the most, to match them with the content later on in the story/novel. The first chapter of Reprobate has been rewritten about ten times, and edited about a hundred times, if not more.
     
  14. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    That's interesting, because the beginning is always the part I touch the least. I generally know how the story starts, it's where it ends up that sometimes causes difficulty ;)
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Funnily, The beginning (first three chapters, even) is the part I considered the best when starting to revise, and yet it's the part where I think I've done most changes to make it even better (ok, a little self compliment here is ok, no?). I find it's funny. I can easily see that there are parts of the novel that need more improvement but the beginning is the easiest to change and improve. why is that?
     
  16. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    The novel I'm talking about was years in the making--I had a lot to learn, and to apply that knowledge to the work in progress, so that meant that the part I wrote first went through the cycle more often then the parts written later on. Also, the beginning of any novel is harder to craft, in my opinion, then the middle or the end.
     
  17. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    I once believed I could write a novel on the spot without an outline and not have to rewrite most of the novel. I was wrong. After reading and briefly editing my first draft I realized how terrible my book was.

    Editing is when you are polishing you novel or changing the structure of it.

    Rewriting is when you take a large portion (a scene, a chapter, or even more) and rewrite it. That's what I am doing.
     
  18. names
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    names Member

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    I think it depends. In most cases you can waste a lot of time. It is a big mistake for someone that needs more experience writing to rewrite constantly. The reasons vary and in no way is it prescribe like some sort of medicine by your doctor,
     

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