Friday, 20 April 2012

R is for...

Revisiting, Rewriting, Reusing. One of the biggest parts of writing isn’t getting ideas down on paper in the first place. It’s all the times you have to come back to them, and there are lots of ways that can happen.

Rewriting and editing are two of the commonest, and indeed, something most writers will find themselves doing repeatedly before a book is quite right. Actually, I’m more of the school that only rewrites fundamentally flawed sections, but it’s still a major chore. A useful one though, because you can produce serious improvements in your writing. I particularly like coming back to things after a break from them, because then I’m less caught up in the piece and I can do more to rework it.

Revisiting an idea is what I do after one of those bouts of deletion that plague my writing. I know there’s a school of thought that says you should keep everything in case it turns out to be great, but for me, that has always been the mind-set of the hoarder. You wouldn’t do it with clothes you didn’t like, so why do it with ideas that are awful? It can take me two or three runs at an idea before I hit on a version of it that’s sufficiently close to the way I want it to be worth finishing.

Then there are the ideas that will just never be full stories but which contain little gems. They might be great characters, or jokes, or just sequences that work. You can always reuse those, taking them away and putting them in places where they might do better. You can even have recurring ideas if you like, such as Robert Rankin’s time travelling sprouts, or David Gemmell’s interchangeably archetypal heroes. There’s one I’m meaning to put into a few things just to see if it works.

4 comments:

soggy in the corner said...

Interesting! yes, I don't like to rewrite anything except for spelling errors or inconsistencies. Probably why I haven't ever made it as a writer! It's always off to the next thought, the next story evolving in my brain.
Your last part about little sections that are good and worth saving is something I need to consider.
Thanks! stopping by from A to Z

soggy in the corner said...

Thanks, the part about small segments being worth saving and maybe incorporating into another story line was helpful to me.

Sharkbytes said...

I've had to re-write a few scenes, but I try to have a pretty solid idea of the plot before I start. Editing, of course, is another matter!
I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month. My alphabet is at myqualityday.blogspot.com

Stephanie said...

Love the advice about the little ideas. I have a slew of characters, plot devices and setting details that are still looking for theri story.

Rewriting, and revision are my favorite parts of writing. The draft is a chore, fixing it is like playing with Play-Doh