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The rewriting steps

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 21, 2016

Most authors hate rewrites. I know because I used to be one of those authors. Over the years, I've learned to break down the rewrite process into manageable steps, and it has made the ordeal less of an ordeal. I actually love rewrites now. It's an opportunity to dive deeper and really explore character and plot. Here are the steps I've learned to incorporate into my rewriting process:

 

  1. Give it some time. Don't attempt to rewrite a first draft that took you weeks or months to write immediately after you type "The End." Give yourself some space. I recommend four to six weeks. Fill in the downtime by starting a new project. You need to gain a fresh perspective, and you only do that by weeks of distractions.
  2. Do a reader's read-through. Don't take notes or make corrections. Just power through reading the first draft as is. Soak in the story and characters without your editor's hat on.
  3. React and record. After the first read-through, sit down and write your gut reaction to the material. What worked? What didn't? What do you need to cut? What do you need to expand on? Be detailed. You should have pages of notes at the end of this process.
  4. Now read the material as an editor. Correct, cut, reshape at will. Be brutal. You are not the writer. You are the editor. Don't hold back.
  5. Write a post-rewrite outline. You want to see a sketch of the story to make sure it's coherent and compelling in the broadest possible terms. You should get a good overview of the story using this strategy and find any holes before the next step.
  6. Get feedback. The next and last step is to hand your rewrite off to pre-publication readers to get feedback before you publish. Be on the lookout for consistent criticisms. Particularly pay attention to feedback on elements of the story that you weren't sure about. Overall, trust your gut.


Rewriting is easy when you break it down in steps. Looking at it as one laborious task can be daunting. Take a breath. Give yourself some space and take it one step at a time.


-Richard


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


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Reward Yourself

Rewrites: Make the Hardest Changes First

1,236 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, editing, writing, rewrites
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I have long been a proponent of "reader blindness" when it comes to writing. That is to say, I don't think that writers should consider readers when they write novels. I believe doing so compromises the quality of the writing.


But let's talk about rewriting. Should you consider your readers when you rewrite your novel? At the risk of contradicting my earlier statement, I think you should. In fact, I think it's impossible not to consider readers during the rewriting stage. I say this because most of my major rewrites have come after I've received feedback from a reader or two or three or four pre-publication.


These early readers will let me know what worked and what didn't. They have been chosen by me because I trust them to give me constructive criticism. The implication of me asking for their feedback suggests that I will consider their opinions when I rewrite. They represent all readers.


By considering the reader, I don't mean catering your story to meet their expectations. I mean to make sure that your prose is palpable, concise, engaging, that you've crafted a story they can follow with deep, rich, multi-dimensional characters and limited exposition. This is how you protect the integrity of your art but still take your readers into consideration at the same time.


Your first draft is done with your blinders on. It's the story that dictates the words, path, and structure of the book. Your rewrite is done with the blinders off. Now your job is to take readers into consideration and to do so without compromising your artistic integrity.

 

-Richard

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

 

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Stage five of writing - gut or beta

 

The perils of rewriting

 

 

1,478 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, author, self-publishing, writers, readers, writing, craft, rewrites, writing_advice
2

Reward Yourself

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Nov 30, 2015

The movie version of The Martian was released on October 2 of this year, and I was pretty stoked to see it. I had seen a trailer for the film months before, when I wasn't even aware that the book had been independently published and had become a viral sensation. The story appealed to me, and I was anxious to see the film.

 

My problem was that I was in the middle of rewrites. Since I had agreed to a deadline with a third party, I had to crack the whip more fiercely and more frequently than ever before. I told myself, "You can see the movie when you're done with the rewrites." So, it began. I deconstructed the manuscript, rebuilt it, and deconstructed it again. During breaks, I would hop online and read Facebook posts by friends talking about how great the movie was.

 

"Maybe I could just take a couple of hours and go see the movie," I thought, but I refused to give in. The movie would be my reward. I moved forward with the rewrites, even picking up the pace. Not only was I anxious to get the book to my editor, I was anxious to see The Martian. And then it happened, ten days before the deadline, I turned in the manuscript. The very next day I was sitting in the movie theater watching The Martian.

 

Rewards should be a part of your writing process. Yes, writing the book should be reward enough, but on those days or for those books where you need a little extra push, give yourself something to work for. You'd be surprised how much more special it makes your achievement feel.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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AAUGH! Rewrites!

Rewrites: Make the Hardest Changes First

1,710 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: author, writing, writing_process, rewrites, rewards
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I'll admit it. I do it. When I smell the end of a book I've been working on for weeks or months, I will rush to a conclusion. Writing a book is a long journey that requires hyper-focus and almost inhuman mental stamina. You do more than invest time in a book; you invest your mind, body, and soul to write a coherent and engaging story. In short, it can get rough.

 

The temptation is to cut corners when you near the end. I mean, you've already devoted tens of thousands of words to this masterpiece you're writing. Will skipping a detail here and there over the next couple of thousand words really make that big of a difference? The obvious answer to this question is, yes, of course it will. Speeding to finish leaves room for mistakes, and it shows an indifference to those for whom you are most responsible--your characters.

 

Here's my advice if you find yourself getting closer to the end. Stop writing. Take a break from the project for a few days. Do your best to distract yourself from the story. Have some fun. Catch up on some sleep. At the end of the second or third day, print out a copy of your manuscript, find a secluded spot and read it, aloud if possible. Read it all the way through and then outline the conclusion. Make it crystal clear what you want to accomplish with the closing pages. Remind yourself what your story is about from a fresh perspective.

 

Then write those final pages, and commit yourself to making them even better with rewrites.

 

-Richard

 

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

 

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A Satisfactory Ending

When Do You Know The Ending?

3,075 Views 2 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, publishing, writing, drafts, rewrites, ending, author_tips, story_writing
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Don't let anyone tell you rewrites are easy. They aren't. There's the psychological hurdle of facing the fact that you are essentially starting over with a story that likely took you months to create, and then there's the added stress of shredding apart a piece of art into which you poured your heart and soul. I have found that every story I have extensively rewritten has been made significantly better. The trick to mastering the rewriting process is to find neutral ground from which to operate.

 

Here are the three simple steps to rewriting objectively.

 

  1. Time – Sitting down to rewrite immediately after completing a first draft or even a second draft is like trying to hike on a trail made of quicksand. You aren't going to get very far. You need time to detach yourself from the story. It once took me 12 years before I saw a rewriting path that made sense for me on one particular piece. I was so married to the original version, it was impossible for me to recognize the glaring flaws that were obvious, over a decade later. Now, that's an extreme example. I recommend giving yourself at least six weeks before you attempt to rewrite.

  2. Feedback – Let a few trusted individuals read your manuscript and offer them freedom to be brutally honest. Explain to them that your plans are to do a wholesale rewrite and whatever they have to say will only help. Promise them you won't take their criticism personally. To prove it, buy them a small gift after they've given you their feedback. It doesn't mean you'll incorporate all their recommended changes. It means you'll get food for thought. Seeking and waiting for feedback will also give you the distance from a project that will allow you to see your manuscript more objectively.

  3. Attitude – You have to go into a rewrite with the mindset that nothing is sacred. On the manuscript I discussed above, only one character kept his name and disposition. Everyone else changed in every conceivable way. One male character even became a woman. Don't trip yourself up by refusing to let go of a piece of your story. I'm not saying you have to make those kinds of changes. I'm simply saying that you have to be willing to make those kinds of changes.


It takes a certain amount of courage to take on a rewrite. Follow the three steps above, and it should make the journey a little less perilous.

 

-Richard

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

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The Art of the First Line

I vs. Me

3,373 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, authors, writing, rewrites
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The Distraction Fast

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Oct 27, 2014

Let's face it: NaNoWriMo gobbles up your free time. Sure, there may be time to squeeze in an episode of The Walking Dead, but there's absolutely no time for anything else. Okay, I forgot about the release of Mockingjay on November 21. You have to take time out to go see that. You're only human. And, you know what, I completely forgot about watching all those cat videos on YouTube. We all need our daily cat video fix. So, by all means, get those in too. But there's absolutely no other way you should be spending your free time other than writing…unless you want to post 80 pictures of your breakfast on Instagram. People need to see that. On second thought, given the enormous amount of distractions out there, I don't see how you're going to be able to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

 

Here's a crazy thought: Why not just forgo those distractions during the 30-day writing marathon? Set them aside and get back to them when December rolls around. Call it a distraction fast. Cut out the TV watching, the movie going, and the nonessential social media activity. The only essential social media activity is your regular NaNoWriMo status update. The one thing I wouldn't give up is the time you spend with real live human beings in a non-virtual setting. Human contact is essential to the writing process so make time to be with the people in your life.

 

November means one thing: You write. You write like you've never written before. You write like a fiend. There is no time for distractions.

 

-Richard

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

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Fix It in Rewrites

How to Write a Novel in a Month

2,355 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: authors, writers, writing, nanowrimo, drafts, national_novel_writing_month, craft, rewrites, writing_tips, writing_advice
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I just finished the second draft of my latest book, and, like everything in my writing life, I found myself evaluating each process as I went along. I'm a strong believer in objectively observing yourself within the craft in order to get better at it. In sports, they call it developing the fundamentals.

 

What I noticed was that each process takes two different brains, and I own both of them. You can call the one I write with my "gut-brain." As odd as it sounds, I don't think with that brain. I write with that brain. I get things done with that brain. When I can't decide where to go with a story, I just let my gut-brain go.

 

The brain I use to rewrite is my "brain-brain." That brain is at odds with my gut-brain because a lot of clean up is required at the end of a gut-brain run. The brain-brain is the coach. It takes all that raw material and gets it into shape. It's ruthless. It's annoyingly strict and committed to making changes. It knows that the first draft is never perfect. Its job is to find the perfection in the mess and make a good book out of a good story.

 

I believe your job as the writer is to give the brain-brain very little input in the writing process and only give your gut-brain limited access to the rewriting process. Do yourself a favor and compartmentalize your writing life. Come at it with your two different brains. Give the right brain control at the right time and you'll be happier for it. And, in the end, you'll have a better book.

 

-Richard

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

 

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A Guy, a Girl and a Bad Critique

AAUGH! Rewrites!

2,712 Views 0 Comments 0 References Permalink Tags: books, authors, book, editing, writers, writing, craft, rewrites, rewriting
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AAUGH! Rewrites!

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger Jun 9, 2010

I am in the middle of rewrites at the moment. I always think I'm prepared for the process, but every time I learn that one can never be fully prepared to find cringe-worthy passages in one's own writing. Rewrites are the very definitions of arduous and humiliating. There are times I just can't bring myself to read one more page without a long break that involves chocolate or some baked good that soothes my writer's wounds.

 

So, is it worth the tedium, horror, and extra pounds to rewrite? Without question, yes. I find too many times that self-published authors either don't do extensive rewrites or they don't do rewrites at all before publishing their book. Huge mistake. Rewrites can do more than help you track down typos. More importantly, they can help you catch holes in your writing and story. When you're working on a manuscript that's tens of thousands of words long, you're no doubt going to make errors that can leave the readers scratching their heads. For instance, I inserted a scene to pursue a plot device, but as I continued writing I determined the plot device didn't work. The problem was that my focus then turned to completing the book, and I put the now useless and dead-end scene out of my mind. Of course, I found it going through rewrites and cut it. Had I decided to take the path of least resistance and self-publish the book without looking back or only giving the manuscript a skimming over, I would have sent a subpar product to market.

 

Rewriting is the least fun part of publishing a book, but in my mind, it is the most important phase of the process. It's so important I don't think you can do it alone. You need an editor or a reader you trust to go through your manuscript and ask you the tough questions about your writing style and your story. Give them the freedom to slash and burn your manuscript without getting defensive. You'll have a better book for it.

 

I have to go now. My first draft and a sleeve of chocolate chip cookies are waiting for me.

 

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

 

 

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5 Tips for Instantly Improving Your Novel

Does Grammar Matter?

9,963 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: self_publishing, books, authors, book, editing, self-publishing, writers, publishing, writing, drafts, typos, craft, rewrites, chocolate


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