Rewrite or Revise? That is the Question
Rewrite or revise? What is the difference between the two? Rewrite is a drastic overhaul of your work. Tearing what you wrote apart and more or less starting from scratch. Something no writer wants to do, but sometimes you don’t have a choice in the matter. Not if you care about your story and your future readers. Revise involves less drastic measures. Tweaking a scene here, rewording another further along. Correcting confusing points. We constantly revise our work when we read back through it. Rewriting and revising are things writers have to deal with whether we want to or not.
So, which camp can I be found in right now? Definitely revising, but I do have one section that needs a major rewrite. There I was, cruising along with the edits for my current wip. Occasionally posting excerpts in Writers World for critiques and comments. One excerpt I posted has turned into a problem child. It’s an important scene, but the way it currently reads, it is confusing. If I hadn’t of posted it, I would have left it alone. But thanks to Colleen Aune Moore, she pointed out what was wrong. Never dismiss comments and critiques made by others, since these are things a reader will catch and point out in a review. Study what is wrong, ask questions if you don’t understand the comment and work to correct the problem.
My first step is taking the comments made about the excerpt and saving them to a word doc. Next I copy and pasted the troubled section into another doc, saved that and printed both documents out. To insure I don’t make things worse, I printed out the sections before and after, to keep things consistent. I have plenty of pens and notepads to help with this rewrite, so the next step will be reading through the offending section and see how I can salvage it. I know this won’t be easy, but in the end my story will be better for it. My next step is taking each section of the scene, writing it out, then go back through the comments made, and write it anew. I suspect I will end up doing this several times before the scene makes sense. I will curse myself, doubt myself, and feel tempted to throw things at the wall, but I will not stop. I am a writer and accept the responsibility of my chosen path. Never surrender!
Another work of mine has been rewritten four times. The rewrites I did were based on comments I received from a writing course I took through Writer’s Digest. Now I’m in the revising and editing stage of that trilogy with a possible fourth book in the offing. I went through a lot of notebook paper for that, enough to fill a box that used to hold ten reams of printer paper. Yes, I am a pack rat when it comes to my writing. The moment I throw something out, I end up needed it later down the line. Now I save on paper by using my laptop and dating the rewrites and revisions. They get saved into folders on the hard drive and backed up on two flash drives.
Even with what I have to do, I continue with my editing, removing descriptions and words that interrupt the flow of the story. Making minor tweaks here and there. When I was first writing this, at the end of each day I would read through what I wrote, making changes. I rarely let it sit, since that’s not my style. Once I finished the first draft, I did let it sit for a few months, working on other things, but in the back of my mind, I was thinking about my first draft. When I returned to start the major editing, I looked at it with fresh eyes. I spotted a number of points that needed to be corrected, but knew I had a long way to go.
Everything I’m learning from revising my current wip, I apply to my earlier works and future work. With the lessons from Writers World and Writers World Boot Camp, I see great improvement, although I continue to have problems with the use of commas. I suspect that will be a continuing battle for me.
May the words ever flow!