A World of Revision

Image Courtesy of Leah Cutter

“The best writing is rewriting” – E.B. White

Glorious news: I’ve come to the end of the rewrite of my first novel. Or not. In my mind, I will begin revising now, polishing prose for prettiness.

Yep, I love that alliteration.

As I mentioned before, rewriting and revising aren’t technically the same thing. Not in my mind anyway. I can say what E.B. White was talking about in his famous quote is true. To make your writing the best, you have to keep revising and polishing (not the same as writing again).

The technical definition of the word rewriting is write again. I already wrote it once. I’m not throwing it out the window and starting over (maybe I should), so is it rewriting?

To me, rewriting involves creating new material. The author takes a brush to their manuscript and ferrets out areas where things drag and where plot holes exist. They realize they need more foreshadowing of a future event or that the subplot is nonexistent.

Starting at the first page, they add to what is written, completing it. This is what I spent three weeks doing.

Revising is a horse of a different color. This is the one I can ride into the sunset and never finish. This is the step I believe White refers to with his famous (or is that infamous?) quote.

Horse of a different color according to ibmsystemsmag.com

Literal understanding of the word: vision again. Yes, I’m going to visit my pages and mull over every word, phrase and sentence. Does it say what I mean? Could I say it better? What would make the voice more pronounced?

After rewriting my manuscript, now the more difficult process of revision begins. It will be a laborious dissection of each and every sentence. By the end, I will likely be ready to throw the manuscript in a drawer and forget it exists.

Instead, I will send it along to my beta readers. They will then get to determine whether I filled all the plot holes during rewriting. Are my characters likable and round? Does everything make sense?

It still won’t be perfectly edited. Sorry, beta readers. Editing is the final step before the manuscript meets my future agent or publisher.

More revision will follow based on what these readers tell me.

Like I said, a world of revision. In my mind, writing is revising.


 

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