16 June 2010

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite

I recently showed someone a first draft of a story (he asked). And he said, "this isn't as good as your published stories." Well, duh. That's because my stories that make it to publication are fifth, sixth, seventh, maybe even tenth drafts, not first drafts. Everyone's process is different, but I believe every author has to do at least a little rewriting.
I've even heard it said that Writing is rewriting.

Over the years, I've gotten a lot better at not starting to write a new story until I know the entire plot/character arc(s). However, once I get a handle on those, I plunge right in. Then, afterwards, I need to examine what the story says, as opposed to what I wanted it to say, or what I thought I wanted it to say. In my opinion, being able to see what a story actually says is a crucial skill for an author.

The stories in our ElectricSpec slush are surprisingly good. But almost all of them could benefit from a rewrite. A lot of the time this just involves paring away all the unnecessary stuff--stuff that isn't directly involved in what the story is trying to say.
So, send us your (rewritten?) stories!

What do you think? Is rewriting helpful? Are you a rewriter?


fairyhedgehog said...

The one thing I've learnt from being part of the writing community is that everything has to be rewritten. I knew it already for non-fiction but I tend to organise that more before I start. So how much more for fiction!

I see the first draft as just getting my thoughts out of my head and onto paper. Then the work of putting it into shape starts.

I think that's why I like writing flash fiction. It's so much more manageable, especially after you've got the first draft down. None of my Nano "novels" are truly finished because I can't manage to edit something that length!

lesleylsmith said...

I really like the idea of "the first draft as just getting my thoughts out of my head and onto paper." That's so true! Thanks!