Tag Archive | tips

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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Character Creation: Physical Build and Facial Features

In my last post on writing tips, I wrote about creating characters. I gave a lot of tips and general guidelines that I personally use when it comes to making my characters, with the exception of anything on character appearance and design. The reason I left out that bit is because, when it comes to what I think and take into consideration with character appearance, I would’ve wound up writing an entire post within the already large-by-my-standards main post, and since this is taking long enough to post already, it will be broken up into parts as I write them. You can read the original post on character creation here.

This post will be detailing my tips on deciding the build and facial features of a character, reasoning behind them, and my general approach of it.

  • Body shape/build

A character’s build can change the effect an appearance gives over-all. A simple change of a character’s body type could change the way someone interprets them by their appearance at first glance, and is a factor that can be used to make your characters unique to each other. It can show things about their everyday life, such as their eating habits, whether they have physically active hobbies/jobs, and other general parts of their lifestyle. Whether or not you’re going to give your character the build of a body-builder, the exact opposite, or anywhere in between, you should have a reason for it, be it a factor to their health, an exercise routine, an active job or hobby or anything else you can possibly think of that would cause that.

A character’s build is more or less defined by their size, shape, and the reasons why they are those sizes and shapes instead of different ones, and can say a lot about them as a person and their health. Looking at a character’s build, you can assume different things about their eating habits, the amount of exercise they get, whether or not they work out or do something that makes up for that, their general physical health, metabolism, and any other thing that effects weight, body shape, etc, and these are the factors that tend to determine someone’s build. For example, an agile character who relies more on their speed for their hobbies/work/whatever they do would probably be, scaling on the higher ends of the spectrum, closer to being a fairly lithe person, as opposed to someone with obvious, large muscles and a larger build.

Because of these reasons, and the usual sticking to have-a-reason-for-everything-you-can thing I’ve got going on in my head, I suggest thinking about more than just your character’s appearance for this. Think about their lifestyle and the factors that determine their build listed above, since I encourage you to make your character’s appearances make sense when put together with the character aside from their looks. If you’re putting together a character’s appearance before you work on their personality and life, I recommend keeping your character’s appearance in mind and to try to create a sensible character in relation to the appearance.

  • Facial Features

Figuring out unique facial features for a character can be a little hard at first if you aren’t used to deciding on them, but it’s very effective for, at the very least, identifying a character visually, and I find it fun myself. Using facial features, you can make a character’s face unique with more than just blemishes, makeup, and different eye colours. While I’m not against using those things to add to a character’s look, I often see different facial features overlooked, and I suggest using both in moderation.

It’s okay to reference real people for their features – mixing and matching different types of facial features you know or have seen before, fitting them together to create a unique face for the character. Looking at and learning to describe real faces and their features can help you figure out what kind of features give the effects you’re looking to portray in your character’s appearance – there are tons of different types of facial features and degrees to which they’re expressed, and they can give even more different possibilities for the effect and mental image of a character.

You can describe and depict the different features in so many ways, combining different ones can give characters more ways to be different from each other appearance-wise. Even when characters have the same core facial features, putting them to different degrees and adding a little bit of another one can change things completely. I like to look at real people’s facial features and the effect that they have on me – be they celebrities, historical figures, my family, my friends, or random people – and figure out how different combinations would change that, to mix and match them and see what they entail. There are plenty of people in the world, plenty of photographs of them on the internet and in books to look at and observe facial features on and there’s even a handy dandy category on Wikipedia containing what makes up the face and some different types of features.

When it comes to describing faces and their features, you can make things sound different to give off different effects, as well – using different description techniques and words to describe these things, you can make a face sound the way you want even more. You can describe the same features in different ways to give off different effects, and with experimentation, it may even be fun for you, too.

Build and facial features are things that I’ve struggled with even taking time to describe in the past, or give characters different ones unique to each other, and I’m glad I realized this. Whether or not I’m displaying a character visually or describing them in words, these features help bring them to life in a more fluid manner, as well as help keep me from eventually sounding like a broken record in describing all of my characters. One little feature of the face or build can distinguish a character and often helps bring the idea of who they are without an appearance to life. I like to use a combination of physical features and the other things that make a character who they are without it to make them stick out among my others.

Do you like to give your characters distinguishing physical features, or do you prefer to rely more on other things that make them who they are? How do you go about choosing these features for your characters, if you do?