1. frenchpastry
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    frenchpastry New Member

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    Tired of Rewriting

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by frenchpastry, Mar 1, 2012.

    Does anyone else get tired of rewriting the same story? I mean, I'm all for making my story better, but after a bunch of rewrites, I start to feel a little frustrated. Anyone else? And anyone have any tips on how to get past this frustration?

    Maybe take a break, work on something new, then go back to it? I'm afraid though that if I work on something else that I'll lose my inspiration and motivation for the story I'm currently rewriting.
     
  2. Pchew
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    Pchew Member

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    Well, your never going to get it perfect :). You have to choose when it's good enough :D
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    What do you mean by rewrites?

    The why I do stories (and I'm a short story writer, not a novellist) is I get a first draft down, and then I spend as long as necessary editing it. I don't (usually) write a story and then start over from scratch rewriting it.

    But Pchew is right, to a point. If you're just nitpicking and reworking and reworking minor details, then there comes a point where you have to simply put down the red pen and move towards submission.
     
  4. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Yes, I wonder whether you actually mean 'rewrite' or 'edit' - rewriting is a pretty brutal and soul destroying process, usually motivated by realising that what you've got fundamentally does not work and needs a radical overhaul. This is what I'm doing to my novel following advice from an agent. Only about 50% of my original draft will end up in the rewrite, and combining new and old drafts is a horrendous chore.

    By comparison, mere editing is a pleasure :D
     
  5. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    It can get frustrating but only when I find errors I can't believe I missed after editing the chapter more then once. I often make changes to finished chapters as I go simply for the sake of continuity with the path the storyline has taken. Each pass does make it better and more readable.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Rewriting (revising, editing) is what you will spend the most time doing as a writer, especially as you are learning the craft. Yes, it can become tedious, but it's just something you have to soldier through in order to be successful.

    The best way to deal with the frustration is to have a plan for every pass. One pass may focus upon expanding scenes that are to sparse and trimming or eliminating other scenes that are overwritten or serve no purpose. Another pass might focus on improving dialogue of each character to better delineate the characters and eliminate drab babbling. Yet another may work on pace and sentence structure.

    Do a read-through to identify the global weakness in the piece that jumps out at you the most, and make that the focus of that pass.

    Your "final" pass should focus on spelling, punctuation, and grammar (SPaG), paying particular attention to parts you have reworked most recently or most often. The worst SPaG errors tend to pop in when you rush through "a few minor tweaks."
     
  7. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    I get frustrated especially if it's the 50th rewrite and people are still catching stupid mistake. Although my favorite part of writing is that moment when you finish fixing something and you know in your heart that it is better now.
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Cogito, focus on one problem at a time, that way it will be easier to see/know when you're ready or at least when it's time to put it away for a couple of weeks/months and do something different. I don't think you necessarily will lose inspiration for this project, to me it is usually the contrary, after I had some rest from that story it feels fun to pick it up and start working on it again. Plus you will benefit from looking at it with fresh eyes and to do that it's almost necessary to put it away for a while. after that you'll see what works and what needs improvement.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is one of the reasons I revise as I go. That way, my first draft turns out to be very good, in terms of style and SPaG. I have to go over it to correct issues of pacing and, sometimes, coherence. Those corrections generally involve deleting scenes that aren't necessary, rearranging scenes into the proper order, and often adding new material to fill the gaps that result from deleting quite a bit of stuff.

    I disagree with Cogito, though, in that he says your final pass should be a SPaG pass. Why isn't your SPaG excellent in the first draft? How can you let a sentence stand in a draft with misspelled words and rotten grammar? This is elementary school stuff. Anyone who has made it past their twelfth birthday should be able to write with good SPaG without even having to think about it.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't ignore SPaG in earlier passes. But my fingers betray me at every opportunity, and spray typos like lawn seed.

    That's why I always finish with a SPaG sanity check. Generally, it's more SP and very little G that needs fixing. :)
     
  11. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Cogito and Tesoro.

    Each revision I do focuses on a different area and my final revision is what I call "pure polish" but it's pretty much SPaG + trimming.

    My first revision is usually a story pass, fixing the structure and mending plot holes. Second pass is ususally tempo, tense and tone, etc.

    By Changing my focus with each rewrite, they don't get as tiring.
     
  12. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    I never thought about it this way before. Though I think I will be from now on :).
     
  13. Fifth Business
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    Fifth Business Member

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    I actually honestly love reading and revising my own work!

    As egotistical as I just made that sound...
     
  14. wilprim
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    wilprim Member

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    I was actually frustrated just a moment ago from this same thing. I feel when I go back to re-writing my story it changes a lot, then I go back again the same thing happens. It is like no matter how much I do rewrite I will always find something to change, and I ask myself when do I draw the line. I do love it though, even as much as I should hate it; there is something about how much my stories can change and sometimes I even get a new idea and all of a sudden my short story turns into a novel! :D

    Writing is re-writing!
     
  15. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    I enjoy re-writing. Then again, writing in general puts me in the zone.
     
  16. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I rewrite from scratch. There are as many ways to go about planning, writing and rewriting as there are writers. Mine method seems to be similar to Michael Morpurgo, so I feel confident it is not wrong. Likewise for a first draft I don't bother with anything but bashing out a story.

    My next move is to read it, put is aside and rewrite from scratch. My first story took eight, but my current ones take two, maybe three. Even if I'd produced a clean first draft I would still rewrite it once I had finished because that is what adds the depth, tone, themes and motifs. Caring about the quality of a draft I set aside seems a waste of time.

    To answer the question I love editing and rewriting. By that stage I know the characters better and it is when I get to see the story really take shape. Try to concentrate on what you are achieving, the changes and improvements. I've never regretted a rewrite because of what it does for my story.
     
  17. forgotmypen
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    forgotmypen Member

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    Rewriting a story can be good, but there's a point where you need to stop and push out that final draft. Honestly, if the story is constantly being rewritten, you're always going to be writing it. I'm speaking from personal experience. I've been writing the same novel for seven years for that reason, when it could have been finished a long time ago. As much as that story has grown throughout the years, nobody is ever going to be able to read it if I don't stop.

    I think three drafts is the limit. After three drafts, the story (or novel) should be nicely polished. No author should honestly need more then that unless the editor asks him to. : )
     
  18. forgotmypen
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    Also, while I agree that SPaG shouldn't wait until the final draft, don't worry about making it perfect in the first draft. The only thing an author should worry about while writing the first draft is keeping the hand moving, and getting the story down on paper. It's true that every writer has his own work-flow, however, editing while writing (during the first draft) tends to hinder, rather then help. It slows down the writing process, and with many writers, it causes them to stop. It gives reason to procrastinate (reading the paragraph you just wrote over and over again, when really you should be focusing on keeping the hand moving, writing the next paragraph, and the paragraph after that.) Never expect the first draft to have perfect SPaG, it's hindering and it will slow you down.
     
  19. DaVinci
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    DaVinci Banned

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    Art is never finished, only abandoned.
    -Leonardo da Vinci
     
  20. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    When I'm editing, I sometimes find that there are segments that need to be rewritten, not just for SPaG or style, but for elements of the story itself. And when that happens, multiple reviews are needed to assure consistency throughout the rest of the story. I've never actually counted, but I would estimate that I read through a draft of a novel more than a dozen times when I'm editing and rewriting. Only once have I ever gone back and rewritten the entire novel (and I'm still not happy with it).

    It does become tedious, sometimes. But as others have noted, you need to soldier on. That's not to say you might not want to take a respite at some point, to explore other emerging ideas or just read to recharge your batteries. It's also possible that after letting something sit for a while, you will encounter a fact or an idea that triggers an "aha!" moment and you're off and running on a new and previously unexpected revision. I'm in the middle of that right now.
     
  21. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    So true. And I hate the feeling of not knowing if it's good enough or if there's something I could do to improve it to make someone wanting to publish it when I just don't see what it would be... argh!
     
  22. shiva777
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    shiva777 New Member

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    I find it very helpful to take a week off from my book now and then...takes away some of the frustration and allows me to get a somewhat fresh view of it.
     
  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This describes only one way of working, and it isn't mine. For me, editing while writing is crucial. It does not hinder; rather, it's the only way I can find my way to the end of a story. If I "kept my hand moving", then I would become increasingly aware of the heap of garbage I was writing, and I'd lose hope and abandon the story. I know this because I've tried it. (I've tried several different methods of working.) It doesn't matter to me if this method slows me down - this isn't a race. What I'm after is a first draft I can read over and be proud of, at least as far as SPaG and style and tone are concerned. That gives me a huge leg up on the second draft, which I'll be eager to get to because I already like the first one. The most depressing thing would be to finish a first draft and know that it has to be rewritten from beginning to end because every damn paragraph needs work.

    Besides, I love working this way. I love writing sentences that shine and paragraphs that glow. I almost don't even care much if I ever get to the end of the story so long as I love the pages I've written on the way.
     
  24. forgotmypen
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    That's definitely respectable. If you've tried several methods of the writing process, and that's the one that works best for you, then kudos. : ) Keep it up. However, I don't think it's right for everyone. Ultimately, getting the story down on paper is the most important thing, (In my opinion), and the writer should experiment to find the method that works best for them.
     
  25. april30ara
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    april30ara Member

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    Rewriting is when the real writing begins. If you're constantly rewriting a story that still isn't working, it may help just to walk away from the story for awhile. Your story is never going to be perfect, might as well explore other ideas for stories that get you excited about writing again. Not all stories are meant to have an audience. Most of the time we're writing to get better at our craft, with the hopes of having an audience one day.
     

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