The Joys of Rewriting

“Rewriting is like scrubbing the basement floor with a toothbrush” — Pete Murphy

I promise that title wasn’t sarcasm. Okay, so maybe it was, but just a little bit.

When I wrote my first novel, I was pretty pleased with myself, I’ll admit. It barely scraped past 50,000 words but it was the most I had ever written. And I thought to myself: cool, so I’ll just edit all the mistakes out and I can get it published, right? Ha ha. Yes, that’s genuinely what I thought editing was. But cut me some slack — I was only about twelve years old at the time. Looking back, however, I realise what a humongous idiot I was. Sometimes, just for the heck of it, I’ll go back and read the first draft of my first novel. I’ll usually get about two lines in before I’m cringing.

And then I discovered this thing called rewriting.

I decided a year later that I wanted to completely rewrite the whole novel. So I did. I sat down at my laptop and rewrote it completely. I was surprised at how many things changed in the novel — several of my character’s names had changed, it didn’t start off at the same place, I cut a few characters that were unnecessarily giving me grief, actually learnt how to punctuate my dialogue, completely shifted my main character’s goal, and got rid of all the scenes that were useless. Looking back, it still wasn’t great, but it was definitely a huge leap up from that first draft.

So that’s exactly what I’m doing now. As well as working on a first draft, I’ve also started rewriting my NaNoWriMo novel. Its’ a YA Mystery/Thriller that I thought deserved a second chance at life, and even though I have rewritten a few novels before, I still find the process difficult. Usually when I rewrite the first thing to go is the beginning. I can never get that part right on the first try for some reason.

So what are your thoughts on rewriting?


3 thoughts on “The Joys of Rewriting

  1. I’m not even going to LOOK at my first novel – that heap of filth is beyond saving, but it also taught me an important lesson, so I love it for that. Only last year did I grasp the concept that rewriting is called rewriting for a reason…I didn’t realise that people meant THE WHOLE THING.

    The joys of rewriting, indeed :)

  2. Pingback: Writerly Post Wednesday: The Joys of Rewriting . . . Part Two | Diary of a Teen Writer

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