The importance of re-writing
Someone asked me recently how long it had taken me to write my latest novel. They were surprised when I told them I had spent about nine months writing the first draft and then ten months rewriting it. The book has altered drastically characters have shifted personalities, storylines have changed and chapter shifted.
When you’ve got the first draft down and you’ve written ‘The End’, it is actually just the beginning. As Ernest Hemingway said “The only kind of writing is rewriting”.
Writing the first draft is easy, it’s making that become a story that will capture the reader’s imagination which is much more difficult.
Ideally once the first draft is complete you should put it away for a period of time, at least a few months, so you can come back to the story with fresh eyes.
Then, re-read it and check the following points:- Does the story grip the reader from the first sentence? Is the story and pacing balanced? Every scene needs to move the story forward and have a reason for being there. Rewriting is ruthless business. If you love scenes but realise they don’t work anymore in the story you can always cut and paste them into a separate document for future use. Are the characters believable? Does every chapter end with a hook which will keep the reader wanting to carry on reading. Are there any transitions missing ie reasons for protagonists decisions. Check the dialogue, most readers have a tendency to repeat a certain word. Make sure your characters are likable, even the baddies. Finally is the ending satisfactory with all the loose threads safely tied up?
Re-writing is the hardest part of writing, but keep at it. Once you get to the stage where you are only making small tweaks the novel is probably ready to be checked by an editor. It is important not to miss out on this step, no matter how thorough you are a different set of eyes, professional ones really will sort out the story and shine it up.
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