Writing

My Writing Process: Rest, Review, and Rewrite

Yay! The first draft is done. Well done, that is an amazing accomplishment many people never reach. Celebrate! And take a rest before diving into the rewrite. 

Rest

Relax away from the story and forget about it. A week at minimum, a month is great, but don’t open the first draft document at all in that time. 

The brain and creative muscles need a break after being continually stretched around the same story. Work on other projects as needed, but keep that manuscript closed.

Review

Okay, resting; installed and complete. Now review. Before actually starting the rewrite, it’s good to have a complete idea of where the manuscript is at. Since you have rested the brain muscles, you can return to it with fresh eyes. 

Read through the entire manuscript. Comment along the way of anything glaring that needs to change. This is the time to make special note of anything you added or changed later in the story that needs to be cohesive from the beginning. Make notes of character continuity and plot holes for later.

Keep track of these comments and the changes you need to make. Having these on hand when rewriting is incredibly helpful. Review these comments often as the rewrite continues to make sure you are addressing them as you go.

Once you have read through your first draft, it is time to begin. The rewrite.

Yay! Fanfare!

via GIPHY

Oh sweet mercy, the pain is about to begin. (Joking 😉 Sort of.)

The rewrite is not as hard as the first draft, but it isn’t easy either. (It’s writing, nothing is easy.)

This second draft has many difficulties all its own. While the first draft is a challenge of creating something from nothing, changing a blank page into a cohesive story, the second draft is looking at that story and making constant decisions about what to change, what to keep, and what needs to be done anew.

With that in mind, commence the rewrite!

There will be no editing the first draft from now on, so open up a fresh new document. 

Now there is one rule for doing a rewrite. Just one.

DON’T COPY AND PASTE!

Ever! This bad habit can snowball into a wasted rewrite and the need to start over again.

One can easily to fall into the trap of ‘this paragraph is good,’ ‘this one is fine,’ and ‘this one is good enough,’ until you have the entire book (minus a couple small sections in the beginning where you were listening) copy pasted into the rewrite document. 

Even if a section or, heaven forbid, an entire chapter is absolutely perfect, rewrite it anyway. It’s not that perfect. And if it is, just do it to make sure the grammar is the best.

I stress this as the one rule of rewrites because it is easy to fall into a trap of just copying over what has already been written, even if it wasn’t the best in the first place. Humans default to taking the path of least resistance, so don’t create the option of just copy pasting in the first place.

There, that’s the one rule, anything else goes. Whatever has to be done to improve the second draft or just to get it started is fair game.

Tips:

  • Write out the first couple paragraphs into the rewrite document, word for word. (Yes, even here, there is still no copy pasting. Pretend the feature doesn’t exist in your rewrite document.) Tab them down until you have space to work, then start rewriting. 
  • Talk yourself into starting by whatever means necessary, doesn’t matter if it’s silly or straight up asinine. A blank page can always be daunting, but the important thing is just to start.

With such thoughts in mind, happy (re)writing!

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