Writer’s Corner: Rewriting

Rewriting is often the bane of most new writers.

(Did everyone see what I did there? I’m friggin’ hilarious.)

As many a creative writer has found, it’s where the grind sets in. After putting your finished first draft (which is still shit, btw) aside for a while, you are now neck deep in the middle of the rewrite. Your story had more flaws than you remember. Holy shit, you forgot the whole middle part of that sentence. Also, Nicolai is a shitty lead and it might just be that secondary character you needed to focus on instead. In the middle of this trauma that you have decided to inflict on yourself, you decide that only one thing can be true…

I suck at writing.

  1.  No, you don’t.
  2. This is an integral part of the craft unless you’re that rare one in a million that doesn’t need a process to follow. Congrats. Now go write a fucking book that sells. This advice is not for you.
  3. The spicy Doritos are awesome when you crush them up and put them on your sandwich.

But I digress…

Yes, this is a hard part of the job. Oh, by the way, trying to become a successful writer is a second career. If you’re not thinking of writing as fun and a job, then you might want to consider just remaining a reader. That’s a harsh truth but it’s honest.

Regardless, this situation is survivable if you persevere. There are some simple tips you can use to make this a more enjoyable experience.

Tip #1

Remember, you need to be your own worst critic. On the first edit read, just do a chunk at a time. Pick a few random chapters to focus on: the first chapter, one from the middle, and the final chapter. You’d be amazed at the continuity flaws that will be obvious as you pick apart the other chapters.

ProTip: Don’t get stuck. It’s very easy to get stuck on a particular plotline or character study. Focus on getting through at least a chapter for every working day you can spend on your rewrite.

Tip #2

Keep it simple. Find the story that you wanted to tell and make sure it remains true. Settings, characters, and everything else can change. The heart of your story should still remain. This is usually where I clearly define my theme.

ProTip: This is usually where I clearly define my theme.

Tip #3

When cutting, focus on exposition and read all the dialogue aloud. Cut it down and trim the fat. If you’re bored reading it, imagine how the reader will feel. If it sounds stupid when you say it out loud then it probably sounds stupid on the page.

Tip #4

If you set something up in the first act you must always make sure it pays off by the end of the third act or there is a truly compelling reason why the reader must wait.

ProTip: This is why I always set up two adventures for my antagonist and their team of misfits. One will pay off in the end and the other will continue on with the next story in the adventure.

Tip#5

Just get it done. When things seem to drag and you have this awesome new idea you want to work on…set aside some time to keep up your writer journaling for new ideas while focusing on your work. You will never write anything people want to read if you don’t actually finish the story. In order to finish the story, you will have to stay focused.

ProTip: Journaling those new ideas will save you a lot of time. No more half-told tales. You’re going to put out real work.


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