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Ernest Hemingway famously wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms anywhere from 39 to 47 times, depending on if you count the fragments of rewrites as a full rewrite or not. For a man with such a sparse writing style, that is a remarkable fact. He spent hours crafting and recrafting an ending, looking for the right words to make the final draft, and perhaps more importantly, find the right words to cut.


The alternative endings remained unread until 2012 when a version of Farewell to Arms was released with the original ending and the others that Hemingway discarded. One can make a reasoned argument that doing such a thing could be construed as a violation of Hemingway's art, but that aside, there is something to be learned from reading the alternative endings, especially if you are a writer.


You can see the emotion explicitly put into the ending, and then over the course of the rewrites, you see the emotional passages eliminated, but somehow leaving the emotional context behind. It's really remarkable and an actual record of the old writing tenet that less is more.


The alternative endings also show how deliberate Hemingway was in his writing. He didn't just sit down and pound out pages on his typewriter. He agonized over every word. Just because he was a literary legend doesn't mean writing came easy to him. He honed his craft and the page earned every word.


Yes, you can overthink and overwrite and spend too much time rewriting, but it's okay to be obsessive about your craft. Take your time and find the right words to use and cut. 

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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Rewrite for New Life


The rewriting steps





962 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self-publishing, revisions, writing, drafts, rewriting, writing_advice

What I'm about to write, I've written before, but it bears repeating. Every NaNoWriMo it becomes an especially relevant topic of discussion, and that is when to self-critique your manuscript. My feeling is clear on this. Your first draft is supposed to be terrible. The first draft is essentially a blueprint. That's not to say you should set out to write something incomprehensible. Write your story as you feel it. Entertain yourself. Get the idea out of your head.


You can repair what you've written during subsequent rewrites. The first draft is where you develop your idea. It's where the little flakes of your story build and build and create an accumulation of characters, settings, dialogue, and plot that amounts to a complete story. Let it out with passion. As I said, write your story as you feel it. I use the word "feel" purposefully. The first draft is when you are closest to feeling the story you are writing. Stopping to critique your story as your creating the first draft interrupts those feelings.


So, I implore you. Write. Make mistakes. Be careless. Let the typos fly. Make your first draft embarrassingly bad. It is for your eyes only. Your test-readers, your editor, everyone else will see your first rewrite. But this first draft, it's just for you. It's a data dump straight from the space in your brain that houses your imagination to the page. Let your fingers fly across your keyboard and don't look back until you write “The End.”


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Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.



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How to get through the first draft

Writing tip: when you get stuck, use all caps and move on




608 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: revisions, writing, draft, writing_advice, author_tips, author_advice


I get it. You want success now. You want to sell books by the truckload tomorrow. You want to wake up in the morning and find your name on a best sellers list. You will search the Internet far and wide looking for the magic marketing formula that will put you over the top. Your day job? In the rearview mirror. You want to be a full-time author, not just a weekend writer, a midnight scribe. You want writing to pay the bills.

Here's my advice. Slow down. I've seen too many writers burn themselves out trying to stay one step ahead of the game. Victories are more likely to come in the form of small steps rather than huge leaps in this industry. Your best course of action is to enjoy the journey and not focus on where you're headed. You will get there when you get there.

You are not in a competition with anyone but yourself. Remember that. We tend to look at other authors' successes and wonder, Why not me? Think of a book the same way you think of a viral video. There's usually no amount of manipulation that will force a video to go viral. It happens when the right material finds the right audience and strikes an emotional chord. The same is true with an indie book. It becomes a best seller when it finds the right audience and strikes an emotional chord. That emotional response is what creates a best seller. You can't make that happen.

Your best course of action is to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep your social media outreach in a constant state of growth. Oh, and above all, take pleasure in the journey. Don't burn yourself out trying to reach your destination.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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How to find success





16,407 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: book, writers, revisions, writing, drafts, social_media, writing_advice

Sometimes I think my favorite part of the writing process is when, after months of toiling at my desk, I finally get to the point where I type in "The End," sit back in my chair, and exhale. I'm not exactly sure why I enjoy this part so much because it's not as if the hard work is done--far from it!

After you finish your first draft, there are no set rules for what to do with it next, but here's what I recommend:

1.    Let it sit for a week, then go back and read it again.

Not only will your batteries be recharged, but after time away you'll be able to look at your work with fresh eyes and make necessary changes to improve it. I'm not talking about catching typos--I mean having a hard look at things like character development, plotlines that may not flow as well as you hoped they would, or even how you chose to begin (or end) the story. It's amazing how much perspective you can get in just a few days away from your manuscript. For example, I know I've created a good character when I find myself reading an early conversation and thinking, This doesn't sound like something so and so would say, then tweaking the dialogue to make it ring true.

2.    Rewrite based on the above.

3.    Repeat steps 1 and 2 as necessary.

Once your manuscript is in a place where you can't imagine changing a thing, it's time for the next step:

4.    Send it to people you trust to be honest with you no matter how much it stings.

For me that's Terri, who is my sister Michele's mother-in-law, and Tami, my gal pal. They will read the draft and give me the honest feedback I need for another rewrite. Or two rewrites. Or three.

After the content of your manuscript is good to go, it's time for the final step:

5.    Find a proofreader who is anyone but yourself.

For me, this is my amazing mother, who always manages to find several hundred mistakes. She's like a freak of nature with the red pen.

After you've finished the above steps, your path to publication is up to you. But, you'll know that whatever route you choose, your manuscript is in good shape!

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Maria Murnane is a paid CreateSpace contributor and the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Have questions for Maria? You can find her at

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Coping with criticism

Save the wordsmithing for later

1,250 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writers, revisions, first_draft

Read and Report

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 4, 2015

I saw the following meme today, and it spoke to me: "Don't be afraid of artists who are better than you." I support the sentiment wholeheartedly, and I'm also puzzled that such a thing needs to be stated. The idea of comparing one's artistic talents with another's is foreign to me. It's a great big world, and there's room for all of us.


The meme actually ties in with the post I had planned to write today, so thanks be to serendipity. Instead of fearing other artists--authors in our case--whom you feel are better than you, be inspired by them. Be grateful for them. Envy is not a useful motivator; it's a step towards cynicism, which is not fertile ground for creativity.


Here's an assignment to help you gain perspective. Pick an author whom you feel has mastered his or her craft. Take your favorite book by that author and pick it apart. Examine every aspect of the story and analyze it. Set aside some time each week to report to your online community what you've discovered about this virtuoso. Encourage feedback. If you find weaknesses, point them out. No writer is perfect. Criticizing someone who inspires you is healthy. Personally, I love the imperfections as much as the perfections.


We aren't individual writers trying to make our way as authors. We are a community of artists supporting and learning from one another. Don't look at other writers as competitors; look at them as teachers. Take advantage of the lessons they offer.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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You Are an Artist

Four Steps to Become More Creative

1,483 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, author, revisions, feedback, creativity, criticism, writing_tips, author_tips

I once hated the most crucial aspect of writing a book: rewriting a book. Writing a book is a huge investment of time, and it also requires a significant emotional investment. I mean we authors are experiencing many different lives going through conflict after conflict. That kind of thing takes its toll. When I finished a first draft, the last thing I wanted to do was reshape the manuscript.


But as the years (now decades) have passed, rewriting has become my favorite part of writing a book. For one thing, the knowledge going in to a project that mistakes will be corrected in rewrites is so freeing. It helps take a little bit of the sting of perfection out of the first draft. Not only do I not mind if there are holes in a book after the first writing, I happily expect them.


Another thing I've realized is, in a very internal way, I create relationships with these imaginary characters that I think up in my head. We spend hours, days, weeks, months together. Rewriting a book allows me to get to know them better. It allows me to recognize why they were so special to me and helps me dive deeper into their strengths and flaws. It gives me the opportunity to give them depth.


The final thing that has helped me to embrace rewriting is the appreciation I have for a challenge. To essentially rethink parts of a story that took me so long to write is a real challenge that pushes me to develop as an artist.


Rewriting is an opportunity to relax, reconnect, and rethink. How can I not embrace it?


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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Use Two Brains for Writing and Rewriting

AAUGH! Rewrites!

5,425 Views 4 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, writers, revisions, writing, characters, drafts, writing_process, craft

I hit a milestone this year in my publishing journey. The first novel I published was completed 10 years ago. How did I celebrate? I published a 10th anniversary edition of the book. While it is similar to the original, it is not the same book; there are significant differences.


Let me explain. About four years ago I spoke with an editor about releasing my first book traditionally. They loved the book, but they wanted major changes. Yeah, I'm not sure how that works either, but I took notes and then diligently did a rewrite incorporating the editor's "suggestions." I emailed the new version of the book to my agent and awaited my contract. After a couple of weeks, I got a figurative punch to the gut instead. The editor hated the changes. He thought I made the book worse and proceeded to send me on my way. My agent and a few other readers loved the new version, so we circulated it around and got some mild interest, but ultimately never got a contract offer. After getting the official word from my agent that there was nothing more he could do, I decided there was something I could do. I could self-publish it, and the timing couldn't have worked out better. I wrote the original in 2004, so I released the rewrite as the 10th anniversary, reimagined edition.


I was concerned that some readers may be upset that I was just trying to sell them the same book in different packaging, so I did a quick survey of readers to gauge demand and discovered that it would be well-received. I also used the author's note at the beginning of the new edition to explain why it existed.


How far are you into your publishing journey? Is it time to reimagine one of your early books? That's the beauty of the digital publishing age: alternate versions of books are not only feasible, they are starting to become commonplace. The comic book world has been releasing "alternate universe" versions of their storylines for decades. Why not novels? As long as you make enough changes to present a new story, retelling a story you've already told could be a viable publishing option.  


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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The Value of Rejection

Indie Freedom!

1,955 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, revisions, writing, launch, craft, book_launch_party, book_relaunch

I had the occasion to discuss change with a group of people this past week. Not good change, but unexpected turmoil. I was the only writer in the group, and as I listened to everybody talk about the unwanted moments they've dealt with, I framed it the only way I know how. I put it into the context of writing a book.


Writers count on change. We have a kind of strange faith in it. We write a first draft knowing that change is inevitable. To us, the concept of change isn't a scary thing. At least it shouldn't be. Rewrites are opportunities to make things better, to improve our story.


The folks in the room hated going through the changes they were faced with, but ultimately they adjusted and found a new perspective that made them happy. That's the same thing we do during rewrites. We take material that we may be excited about, only to come to realize changes need to be made. We adapt and gain a new perspective. These bumps in the road that we experience when writing a book (and even in life) simply need reframing in order to be seen for what they really are: an opportunity to improve.


Last night, I talked to a writer after a writing workshop in which material was read and critiqued by the other members of the group. It's a terrifying thing to go through. This writer admitted to me that she didn't take the feedback very well the first time she participated in the workshop. She took all the criticism personally, but when she got home and looked at the material, she realized the changes people had recommended really did make the story better.


Don't fear the bad breaks in writing or in life. They are opportunities for you to gain a new perspective that will make your life better.


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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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It's Never Too Early to Get a Little Help from Your Friends

Be Open to Constructive Criticism

2,067 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, revisions, writing

I'm in the early stages of writing a new book. To date, I have written about 12,000 words of a planned total of 100,000 words. I'm going to give you a brutal assessment of the work I've done so far: It's horrible. The main character is flat, the villain is over the top, and the setting isn't really that well developed.



But here's the thing: I don't care. My goal at this stage is to get to the 100,000 words mark with as few distractions a possible. The biggest distraction I encounter when writing a novel is that little voice in my head that constantly asks, "What on earth are you doing?" And for kicks, it chimes in with a "If anyone ever sees this, your career is over."



Every time my inner voice speaks up, I reply with "I don't care." I say it so many times within the confines of my bald head that it's become my writing mantra. "I don't care. I don't care. I don't care." The truth is no one will ever see this version of my book. I won't be judged by anyone outside of my own internal imaginary critic. My inner voice will try to destroy my ability to sally forth. When I get to the rewriting stage, I'll sing a different tune, but now is not the time to even think about how I'm going to fix this mess. Now is the time to make this mess.



I invite you to borrow my mantra. Use it every time your own inner critic attempts to halt the progress of your first draft. Shout it loudly if you must and shout it proudly. I don't care!




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Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.


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How to Get Through the First Draft

Writing Tip: When You Get Stuck, Use ALL CAPS and Move On

3,587 Views 3 Comments Permalink Tags: books, editing, author, writers, publishing, revisions, writing, drafts, beginning, rewriting, writing_stages