Rewriting is Writing

Here’s the quote of the day by Michael Crichton:

“Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”

I wish it only took me seven or eight or twenty times. But the fact is, with the first chapter especially, rewrites happen. I usually lose count after thirty. If there was an AA for authors (Authors Anonymous), I’d be a card-carrying member so I could commiserate with kindred spirits about self-editing.

Yesterday, page after page of my draft was turned without touching a word…until I came to a spot where I referred to my heroine in the third person (e.g., Corrie stepped in front of the guy). Only problem is, my book’s written in the first person. AAARRGGG!

I don’t mind editing and rewrites, really I don’t (excuse me while I find a fire extinguisher for my pants). In fact, I welcome them because every rewrite brings me that much closer to the novel I aspire to write.

But I have hope. Book 2 took me fewer rewrites than Book 1. That’s progress, right?

So here are three tips I humbly offer to assist in making the editing process more efficient:

1. Keep a checklist
I would show you mine, but I’m afraid you’d be traumatized. It’s a bit of a jumble. I use a yellow legal pad and write notes by book page. Then I either place a box, circle, triangle, star or whatever captures my fancy to group my notes together. For instance, on every page where Corrie mentions her late, great PI dad, I place a circle around the number. This is to make sure I’m not redundant.

2. Highlight dialogue
To ensure our characters don’t sound alike, it helps to highlight their distinct individual speech. For example, pink for Corrie, yellow for Veera, etc. If I were to cut out the speech of each character, put it in a hat and draw it out, I should be able to know who said what by personality.

3. Read the manuscript out loud. This is a HUGE help. But before you do, listen to an audiobook by your fave author. This will help you understand the proper rhythm of words and sentences.

4. I know I said three tips, but it’s my blog, isn’t it? Always, always make sure you enjoy the writing process. It’ll come more easily, and happy writing = happy reading.

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6 years ago

Thank you! I am writing my life story, thank you very much for your advice.

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