Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

Re-Write Right

I have been crazy busy lately. With PitchWars now open to submissions, (Until Wednesday Aug.29th) I have submitted, and that is now off my plate of things to do/worry about. Not that I was up at night worrying or anything, but it was on my long list of stuff to get done.

I haven’t had much time to write lately, not that I’m a fast writer, I’m hoping to find some time to work on a project that has been patiently waiting while I prepped for PitchWars and through the re-write.

I want to talk a bit about re-writing and how it’s different from revisions and editing.

Editing is the process of correcting grammar, sentence structure, tone/voicing, errors and the little mistakes that hide within the words.

Revising is the process of altering sentences, paragraphs and chapters even to correct story errors, plot holes, character flaws or even add to the story by writing in better dialogue, scenes or descriptions. I’ll often be on a roll with writing and not want to stop and describe something like the desk or the room, and I’ll put [describe desk] or [describe room] so that I can go back and add the descriptions when I’m revising. Sometimes if I know something isn’t working and I want to come back to it I’ll mark it with XXX or *** that way I see and remind myself I wanted to look closer at that text.

Are Editing and Revising different? Yes, can they be done at the same time? Of course. I do both together all the time. I’ll often go through a document with a secondary grammar/spell check program such as Grammarly, and then I’ll use the search and replace feature of my word program to highlight issues. I’ll highlight Filter words, LY (for adverbs, there is no way to highlight the whole word, so ly works just fine.) I’ll highlight ING, and words I use far too often such as but, or perhaps. With them highlighted I can address them as I revise.

A Re-Write of a book is different from Editing and Revising but encompasses both. Re-writing can be done however an author wants. They can read a paragraph and wing it. I couldn’t do that myself, I like what I wrote the first time and don’t want to confuse myself. I like to do a line by line re-write. That can be one sentence at a time, one paragraph, block of dialogue, or even a chapter.

What I do.

I will have two documents. (original is saved as a 1st draft.) The first is a copy of the original that needs to be re-written. The second is a blank document formatted correctly. I will copy a segment from the original(taking note of word count if I’m striving for lower numbers and change that segment on the copy to say, purple.) Then I’ll paste it into the new document as plain text, so it’s black.

Then I will read each line carefully, in an attempt to get the most from a sentence. Then once I’ve removed crap sentences, written cleaner sentences and checked for repetition, I will highlight the new segment(take note of new word count.) and I’ll change it to say light grey. Then I’ll repeat by copying the next bit(change it to purple on the copy) then paste as plain text to the new document.

What’s the point of changing the color you ask? Good question. It keeps my place in my original document, and I can clearly see what I’ve done. Same on the new document. If I have to leave halfway through a paragraph, I want to come back and know if it’s done or not. Why in different colors? I personally like the documents to look different even though one is a work in progress and obviously different. It just makes me feel better to see the difference.

What’s the point of noting the word count? Whether I’m looking to beef up my word count or bring it down, keeping track is fun and useful. With this one, I’m striving to bring it down. So with each segment, if I can have it lower than the original, I’m winning. If it’s longer, I can take a closer look. They aren’t always lower, but I strive to bring the count down with each segment. I also have a handy dandy spreadsheet where I track chapter by chapter. Once I’m done re-writing a chapter, I will track the original chapter’s word count against the new re-write. I also have it configured to tell me the total words removed ‘thus far’ and a countdown to my goal word count. This helps me stay on task with a clear goal in mind.

My last post was about some messy sentences that needed to be fixed with some examples. Popping Inflated Sentences, I’ll revisit this idea once I have some more examples to share. For now, it’s back to the re-write.

My advice about re-writing
Sit on the work for at least 3 weeks before attempting a re-write. The longer, the better. 1-3 months or longer even. This will let you reset your brain, so when you go back, you have fresh eyes. I know some will say “Nah, I can do it right away.” You probably can’t. Trust me, this advice exists for a reason. At least write something new or read a book before tackling a re-write. 

-Sheryl

 

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