The Pros of Rewriting

So, I said I'd talk about another element of editing/revising today. Rewriting - when you're doing more than fixing dialogue tags, spell checking, etc. You need to be careful not to edit or revise the life out of your manuscript, but sometimes something just isn't working the way you wrote it. It could be a scene, a chapter, a whole section of the book, or even the entire book itself. What do you do when this happens?

I've had a couple of instances where this occurred and I was able to fix the problem by rewriting instead of trying to edit or revise.

My mafia romantic suspense had this occur with the beginning. I had written out the first two chapters and enrolled in a novel course. Through the pre-work the instructor had me do on character development, plot development, etc. I decided that I didn't like the first two chapters. I evaluated them, pulled out a couple of pages of dialogue and scrapped the rest. The dialogue was pulled out more for the information it gave as I ended up rewriting those dialogue lines as well. I ended up with much stronger beginning chapter than I had started with.

My YA fantasy had a similar beginning. This is one of those books of the heart that I'd been working on in fits and starts for years (before I got serious about my writing). When I settled down to finish the book, I discovered that though the basic storyline and characters would remain the same I really didn't like what I'd written. Some scenes were salvageable, but a lot of it was junked. So, I just started over from scratch, copy pasting the few scenes I felt fitted my new vision for the book.

My first NaNoWriMo, oh so many years ago, LOL, was finished and yet I hadn't hit the 50,000 word goal. So, I looked over it, and discovered I had a much better idea for the opening chapter, I wrote it, and the beginning was way stronger than it had originally been.

My space opera was written originally with a completely different plot that made it more of a long short story. When I decided to make it longer I realized I'd have to scrap the plot all together and go in a whole new direction with the same characters. I didn't even try to re-write or edit what I'd already had. I started from scratch.

I could go on and on. Kinda sad that I could go on with other examples from my own writing, but it is what it is. I've noticed a pattern in my own writing in the last couple of years. I tend to scrap my first couple of chapters a lot. And it isn't like I intend to this when I first write them. It's just what ends up happening. I have a feeling it has to do with me getting to know my characters in those first couple of chapters and seeing everything much more clearly once I've written the entire story. Suddenly, those first few chapters are not the beginning of the story anymore.

How about you? When do you know that your book or story needs more than some revising, but a full blown rewrite?


  1. When I just can't find a happy place where everything feels like it's coming together, or when my critique buddies gag politely! :-)

  2. I'm not a writer. When I was a painter, I would rework a piece...and if it didn't get where I wanted it to be, I'd toss it. This is a different process than working with words...painting was very physical. Sometimes the piece would just flow...awe, the flow!! Happy event.
    But rare. Bis storm to turn on the internet for a short time...later...jan


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