Thursday, July 27, 2017

Rewriting and revising your book are the most important things you can do

Time for a little R and R for novelists.
I don't mean rest and relaxation. (There's plenty of time for rest and relaxation after your book is published.) 

Rewriting and revising your book are two of the most important things you can do to your writing.
The major difference between a novel and a good novel is rewriting and revision of your manuscript.

Revision is part of the process of writing. By revising, we learn what we have to say while we figure out the best possible way to say it. Any writing is made better by revising and rewriting.

Beginning writers often think their writing is good, simply because they wrote it. Professional writers know not everything we write is perfect. Writing should be rewritten. No writers alive should permit their work to be published without rewriting.

The beautiful thing about writing is, unlike brain surgery, you don't have to get it right the first time. You can always do it better. The best writing is rewriting. That’s why you didn’t show your secret draft to anyone.

Respect for the writing profession demands you strive for excellence. Your writing becomes publishable by being revised and rewritten. It takes guts and persistence for beginning writers to turn revision into an organic part of their working equipment. It can be done and once you begin, you're going to see immediate payoffs.

Revision is far easier than inventing something in the first place.

It goes faster than creation and it makes your work better. Revision and rewriting isn't difficult. There’s no right or wrong way to rewrite or revise fiction.

As writers, we've been involved with the book on a day-to-day basis for so damned long we're too close to our work to be able to see it clearly. We need some distance.

One of the best things you can do, once you've finished your book, is to put it away for a while. The good thing about putting it away for a while is you get some distance. By the time you return to the work you were so proud of, the first flush of romance will have given way to the clearer light of reality. Faults will be easier to spot.

Gaps and missing links will be more apparent. Things you knew but failed to tell readers are going to show up because you'll be more likely to read the book as a reader and not as a writer. The blush of inspiration gives way to the harsh light of a critical reading. You may find yourself saying, "I can't believe I did that."

“When you do find your mistakes,” Stephen King says, "you are forbidden to feel depressed about them or to beat up on yourself. Screw-ups happen to the best of us."

When revising, some writers have a difficult time letting go of their words. However, as King advises, "Kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart."

If you can't stand to put it away at all, then at least read it aloud, which gives you another kind of distance from what you've written. Clunky prose and untrue dialogue, which doesn’t sound like real people talking, become especially apparent in this kind of reading. If you choose to read it aloud to someone else, you'll become painfully aware of tedious, boring stretches, dramatic moments that don't work, missing links or gaps in narrative.

----- (From NOVEL SECRETS available in paperback and Kindle form.)

Lary Crews