Top Tips on Rewriting

The first thing to know about rewriting is that it is not especially easy. If you have ever rewritten and/ revised any rewritten texts you will know it is difficult. Sometimes, it can go very well, but at other times, you may find there are many things to learn. However, with practice and experience, you should acquire some valuable rewriting skills that serve you well. We would like to share the following tips, which we trust you will find helpful. 

The suggestions outlined below are a few things that should help if you get stuck. This is not a definitive list, and it is recommended you use only those techniques that work for you and discard the rest. However, remember, you have goals to achieve and these are well worth working for.

Put your draft in your filing system and begin again

This is a piece of advice that always appears in relation to rewriting. It is good advice and well worth noting. There is nothing shameful about putting a text aside and starting anew. Do not think of it as a loss.

Whenever you begin the process of revision, save your previous draft, file it, and begin a fresh document. If there are any aspects of your previous draft you want to keep – any language or good ideas – paste these into your new document. However, in most cases, it is best to write from scratch. You should find this next version begins to flow more quickly and more cohesively. Any characters you have created will start to come to life, and any boring or irrelevant parts will remain filed away in your first draft.

Some experts suggest the theory for this is that a writer’s brain is at first working overtime trying to figure out their script, develop their characters, and create the plot. Of course, all this work is interspersed with flashes of energy, inspiration, and enlightenment. However, these flashbulb moments can get lost in the very real task of developing the text you are working on in a manner your readers and yourself will be able to understand. Then, when you get to the next or second draft, these rules will have been ingrained in you so you can write more freely about the things that are now clearer to you. All this, of course, is time consuming, but very worthwhile.

Doubt yourself by all means but trust in your goals

A lot of writers really believe there are two elements within an unfinished written piece. These are:

  • The goals to be achieved
  • The writer’s own ego

The process of rewriting is about figuring out what is what and then discarding the egotistical elements. Everyone gets attached to the flowery descriptions they write, the parts of a plot that they manage to rework back into their text, and the ‘cool’ words they have carried with them for many years. The fact is, however, that no matter how clever, descriptive and creative one might be, it does not matter if it does not achieve the end objectives. And that is what matters.

Things to bear in mind

  • Try not to put too much faith in adverbs and adjectives.
  • Most characters soon start speaking in a unique manner and, usually, none of their voices sound identical.
  • It is normal to have some doubts about various aspects of your work e.g. about whether you should add something new, change the gender of a character, and so on. The best answer here is to say try it. Then decide what you think about it.
  • Do not hesitate to cut. Keep only what is vital. No one wants to get stuck in a time or situation that has already passed.

Collaboration really helps

One final thing worth mentioning about rewriting is that there should be more of it. People usually write alone so this activity is a solitary one. People also read and revise alone. When the work is done, it is handed in and the writer hopes it will bring the desired results. 

However, there is another option! This involves collaborating with others who can bring new angles and dimensions to your work. These people include tutors, friends, publishers, designers and directors. We are surrounded by such people. A piece of written work is often richer where there is collaboration. So, wherever possible, seek the input of those who can make your work better!   

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