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  • Writer's pictureRachel Paige

Rewriting Vs. Revising

When it comes to second drafts, it's tempting to simply scroll to the beginning of your document and start editing. Especially if you planned the novel before you wrote it.

I hate to break it to you, but that actually isn't the most effective form of revision. Keeping the same document and going through page by page, start to finish, makes it tempting for you to keep what you already have. Major changes seem overwhelming and confusing.

You'll find yourself wanting to tweak the novel instead of revising the novel. You'll want to fix plot with a well-placed sentence, add character traits with a sprinkling of references, and alter sub-plots by tossing in a few references to them.

It won't work. All you're doing it adding duct tape to a less-than-perfect machine. It's hard to see the full picture when you're looking at the version that already exists.

I have a recommendation, and you probably aren't going to like it. Why? Because it's a bit tedious, takes longer, and requires a lot more work. But it's worth it.

Open a new document. Open it side-by-side with the original. Re-type every word.

Seriously. Rewrite the entire story, start to finish. Why is this helpful? Because if there's nothing there, it's easier to change things. You won't skim over something because you're typing it again. You'll be more willing ot make big changes because they're much easier to make when you're not searching for every reference to the sub-plot you just cut.

A fresh document allows you to open the story to new ideas, bigger changes, and stronger revision.

Retyping every word takes time and energy, but in the end, your story will be so much better. You aren't adding duct tape. You're tearing down the entire machine and building it again. Better than it was the first time.

Trust me on this and at least give it a try. Resist the urge to change what you have and instead start a new document. The changes you'll be willing to make will be HUGE.


Do you revise or rewrite? What are some benefits you've found in rewriting?

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