The importance of rewrites
It is a common misconception that writing happens in a complete block of time. The idea happens, the writing flows, and when you get to the end of your piece – the writing is done. When the fact of the matter is the first draft is only the beginning. There are rewrites, more rewrites and more rewrites.
This image of the writing process often stops many would be writers in their tracks. But rewrites are an essential and necessary part to make your work the best it can be.
What does it mean to rewrite?
Writing can only improve when you dig deeper into the why. When you write something you’re initially concerned with the what. What’s happening? What is the journey from point A to point B? As you write, you address what’s happening and you’ve figured how to make it happen. This is why writing a first draft is so satisfying.
But it’s only the beginning. Start asking why. Instead of what happens next, ask the question, “why does this happen?” Why does this character choose this action, say this line, make this decision? You can even question yourself, why am I writing this? The more you question your writing, the more specific, effective and effecient your writing will be. The why of your work will take it to the next level.
Where do I start with rewrites?
- Go through your work and write down any questions. Circle anything that does flow. Put a question mark beside anything you don’t like.
- Write a synopsis of the piece. Can you concisely describe the work from beginning to end? If not where do you get hung up?
- Create a character profile for your main characters. Where do they come from? What are their likes and dislikes? What are their memories? What is their relationships? You have a sense of who the character is through the first draft, now go deep with the minute details. Even if you don’t use a single detail you will truly know your characters. And more importantly you’ll be able to compare the charcter in the first draft to the character in the proflie. Do they differ.
Rewrites can feel less rewarding than a first draft because they can take so much time to complete. Sometimes a single sentence may take an hour. But if you dive into the piece by asking why, by going deeper with your characters, you cannot help but come out the other end with a much improved work. The best you could possibly deliver to your audience.