Rewriting and Revising: Different editing species of the same genus

Horrible titling, I know, but it’s better than just ‘Rewriting and Revising’.

Rewriting and revising are often talked about together, I’ve noticed, but really, they’re very different creatures. Yes, they do have things in common at times – you may be working from one of your drafts, you may try to think about more details than you do when getting the first draft down that you tend to pay more attention to while revising, etc – but they are still quite different.

To revise is, to me, to modify something, to go in and correct or condense, to fix up the material which may involve some rewriting, but for the most part, you’re just, well, fixing up the material. Rewriting can be a part of revising, but it really depends on what stage you’re at in the revising and the material you’re working on – the idea of rewriting is different than just revising. To rewrite is to completely write it again – some things about it may come out similar or even the exact same as the original, but essentially, you’re recreating the material and probably altering it quite a bit in rewriting, being it in the word choice or the material aside from that, and you could technically edit it as you do this in some departments depending on what you personally consider revising (when rewriting, I do tend to pay more attention to my word choice and edit the plot as I go).

For me, rewriting is more enjoyable than just plain revising, but at the same time, harder. Changing scenes, ‘killing my darlings’ as it’s so often called, trying to even it out and fix it, and trying to use my editorial mind at the same time as trying to change things that need changing to my liking – they’re things I’ve not gotten used to quite yet. I’m trying to revise and rewrite at the same time, but still give myself the freedom of not trapping myself within what I’ve already got set out, to give myself the freedom of making what happens still what I like, even if I don’t like it as much as what I had originally planned. Revising is something I like to think I’m fairly good at when I feel up to it, to go through and find misspellings, odd word choices, choppy sentences, bad grammar, etc, that’s something I can do when I look over something a few times, sure, but changing the overall material to the degree I do when I tend to rewrite can be a little bit hard for me.

But I have to sit down and do it – I have dreams for these projects that I’m working on, and I have to remember that to achieve what I dream of for these things, I need to sit my ass down and work on them, even if some parts of the process feel a little slow and unenjoyable – to get the finished product that I want, I have to get through the parts that aren’t so fun. If it’s not worth getting through the tough parts of the process, then it really isn’t worth working on at all, is how I see it.

I’m not too sure on whether my rewriting and editing process is normal or not – I will admit that I don’t read posts on that often, which I really should, especially while trying to motivate myself to rewrite and revise my current project, so I don’t know much about the process that other’s use. I complete the material to edit – in this case, it’s my script from Script Frenzy, which is for the first chapter of a graphic novel I am working on. I wrote it out in a large notebook I’ve had for years in pen, so it’s a mess of scribbles and chicken scratch, and I rewrite each scene individually. Each scene has it’s own separate file, which I rewrite the material in and when the scene is done – usually between 3 to 7 pages, I believe – I go back and revise it to make sure I didn’t misspell something or make any mistakes, to fix up the scene, before I move on to rewriting and revising the next.

I like getting each scene edited before working on the next one, and while working on this, I’ve been sending each scene to someone to have them read over it and give me their feedback to ponder and fix up the scene some more if I feel necessary afterwards before I move on to another scene. I usually send every other scene to a different person, so all of the work of reading the entire thing isn’t just on the shoulders of one person. It helps me get the feedback of two different people rather quickly, giving them little bits and pieces of the story without giving them the whole thing, again, which can help see if each scene is engaging enough on it’s own and other bits and bobs of information of that manner.

It helps me to both rewrite and revise at the same time, editing like this. Having a sort of mini-audience, or beta readers, to it while you’re editing seems to help quite a bit, at least for me, especially since the two people I have looking at it are pretty big influences and inspirations for my work as of now. I think I’ll have yet another person look at the completed product as is to get an opinion on the whole story and fix it all up yet again before handing it out to the two current readers to get their final opinions before I buckle down and complete it to work on the other chapters/transfer it to art.

I’m sure my editing process will change over the course of working on this entire series (it will be rather long, if it goes as I’m currently planning), but dipping my toes into this way of editing tells me that the water here is rather comfortable and I may well stay in it for a while.

What are you guys up to? When it comes to editing as a whole, how do you get it done, and what do you think of using beta readers?

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4 thoughts on “Rewriting and Revising: Different editing species of the same genus

  1. I tend to do a lot of editing as I go, which makes for interesting progress in the story as I keep going back to the beginning and starting over. It’s worked for me thus far, but I’ll probably have to go over it more rigorously with others now that I’m writing more steadily. We’ll see if I can find any willing victims…

    • Editing as I go tends to slow me down a bit, personally – I always get caught up in editing and not finishing the draft, which is why I try to work longhand in pen with my drafts as to avoid much editing, which would require a lot of crossing out and scribbling as I write, and then transfer it to the computer when I’m ready to work with editing so I can focus on them both at different times. I like to pay attention to getting all of my ideas down as quickly as possible and getting engaged with the story in the draft and save the doctoring and polishing for when it’s done. I actually went with editing as I go for a long time and just switched up recently, and it’s working a lot better for me now that I’ve got people willing to help me pour over my drafts when I’m working on the editing.

  2. “Beta-readers” can be some of the best support you need to get a project done. I currently have the best beta-reader for my most active project. (He’s wonderful) It takes special kinds of people/friends to help out, and requires some comfort in exposing your un-edited un-polished mess. (I feel so naked when people see it!)

    • I definitely agree here – sharing my work with a ‘beta-reader’, even if they’re a close friend, can be kind of a scary experience, at the very least when it’s not edited (or at least not completely polished), in my opinion! I’ve definitely never felt so anxious about my writing as when I show it to someone, especially since the people who read my work first tend to have opinions that really matter to me. The last scene I sent to a friend to do a read-over mostly unedited included some types of scenes that aren’t my strong suit, and just waiting for them to finish reading and give me an opinion was quite the dreadful wait, haha.

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