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Rewriting and Revision
Michael Guarneiri
Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 10:30 PM
Joined: 4/27/2011
Posts: 29

Every writer has his/her process. After finishing a first draft, it is inevitabe (unless terribly unmotivated) that there will be a second and a third and a fourth etc. What's your process? After finishing that first draft, what do you do? After the third? How do you tackle revision? Often, I get yelled at by my writing-peers because I REWRITE rather than REVISE. When do YOU rewrite? When do YOU revise? What's the difference in your eyes? Why do you choose one or the other?

Michael L Martin Jr
Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 11:32 PM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 23

For me, it happens differently for each novel/chapter/scene.

First of all, I REVISE everything all the time. I revise when I feel like the writing is mostly working, but just needs improvement in some areas.

I REWRITE when the writing totally isn't working for me at all, and just needs to go to Manuscript Heaven. I have yet to rewrite an entire novel though. Mostly it's only scenes or chapters that I trash and start from scratch.

After I consider a first draft "finished", I stop working on that MS and write a new one or revise a previously unfinished MS. (I keep a rotation of novels going, and always have something to work on.) I like to get some space from novels because when I come back to them after some time I can see a lot of issues that I couldn't see the first time because I was too close to it.

It takes me anywhere from three to six months to complete a brand new draft depending on the complexity of the story. That gives me plenty of time to forget an old MS enough to view it as a stranger when I return to it. Currently, I have a MS that I haven't seen in almost a year. And so far I haven't had a problem with jumping back into any story after such a along time. *knock on wood* But that's probably because a lot of my novels exist within the same story-universe.

I do countless revision passes when I finally do return to a MS: I read through the MS and correct any story issues I come across, I spellcheck everything, I run a macros in Word for overused phrases/adverbs/cliche's, and I still miss a lot of things. At some point, I get it into the hands of a Beta. When I get that feedback, I address any concerns and make necessary corrections and then do all the above again. And I still miss a lot of stuff. This could go on for a month or three depending on how much work needs to be done. I've never actually timed this part because each time it's different.

That's it I think. I never really think about my process in depth like this. I just kinda do it.

Posted: Monday, May 2, 2011 11:57 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

My process so far, since I'm not terribly expert, is pretty fluid. Generally, though, I write the draft and let it sit for a period of time.

Then I go back and read through the manuscript, noting in comments what questions I have, notes, etcetera on the story itself. I'll make minor tweaks like fixing typos and capitalization, but I leave the draft pretty well alone. When I'm done with the read-through, I copy and paste the entire manuscript into a new file.

Then I go to town, fixing plot holes, adding in or removing elements of foreshadowing, etc. I don't worry too much about looking at my characterization and such at this point because I'm mostly looking to get the draft as cohesive plot-wise as possible for beta reads.

I'm horrible at spotting the problems in my own works so I rely on distance and other people's eyes to help. Once they show me an issue, it's obvious to me so I'm hoping that as time goes on I'll get better at spotting the issues myself.
MB Mulhall
Posted: Friday, May 6, 2011 3:47 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 81

My process is as follows:

1) Finish rough draft.
2) Coerce a couple of friends into reading the very rough and crappy draft with the express purpose of finding plot holes, unanswered questions and confusing bits.
3) Re-read a print out and mark it up in red with comments, removals, additions, grammar/spelling mistakes.
4) Go through digital copy and make the corrections, re-reading along the way.
5) Send edited version to new beta readers.
6) Rinse and repeat as needed.
Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 5:39 AM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 46

My revision process for a full draft of a novel (75K-90K for me) is as follows:

1. Readers - send the draft off, try not to throw up, recover, then work on something else for a few weeks while waiting for comments
2. Review comments - Wait until all come back (usually 2-3 readers), read, ask questions if I have any. IMPORTANT: I like to ask questions soon after receiving comments, because readers can forget the exact nuance they were questioning over time.
3. Wait - I take between a couple of days and a couple of weeks to digest the comments, determine which changes I'm likely to make, and formulate plans for major changes.
4. Triage - I fix typos and small issues first because otherwise, if I'm making big changes, I'll lose the page number references. If a single scene needs to be cleared up, I'll do those next. Then, the large changes such as rearranging plot points, combining characters, or heightening a twist/reversal/sub-plot.
5. Rest - At this point I'm sick of the manuscript and want to throw it away. I'll give it about a week, then review again for continuity and proofing.

I usually edit on the screen, but will print pages I'm having especial trouble with, and again to read aloud before sending off to my agent.

I do revise as I'm writing, to an extent, because that makes my first draft tighter and cleaner, which I think helps the readers focus on content rather than small errors.
Posted: Monday, June 20, 2011 9:58 PM
Joined: 3/29/2011
Posts: 25

Once I finish a first draft, I let it sit for a while before reading through the whole thing and making notes on things that aren't working. I try very hard not to make any actual changes during the first read-through--the point is just to get a sense of the story. Then I go through again, making all the changes I made note of the first time around. I usually read the MS a third time to make sure all my changes make sense and everything sounds okay before sending it off to beta readers for feedback. Then: more changes!!

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