Friday, May 23, 2014

Editing vs. Rewriting

If you've listened to this week's episode, you know that my self-editing process has, mostly, consisted of completely rewriting everything. Not the best editing process in the world. In fact, it might just be the worst.

It's time-consuming, and it's great for discouraging myself (I mean, rewriting the same chapter ten times really makes me feel like it's terrible). It's a great way to never get anything actually finished.

The point of editing is to polish and dress up a piece so that it's the best it can be. Inherent in that is the idea of an end-point, a moment when you can sit back and look at your piece that's ready for publication, or posting online, or whatever you're doing with it.

So, basically, this is a "do as I say, not as I do," type post. I really, really encourage people to not follow my example of rewriting everything. Take some time off from a piece before you begin editing, and try to do it little bits at a time. Sometimes rewriting is necessary, but most of the time more simple editing will get the job done.

This is where beta readers and critique groups and other feedback comes in. having someone else look at your work can help you figure out what needs full-on rewriting and what just needs some tweaking or fixing-up. It's hard to tell when you're close to your work (as most creators tend to be), and letting someone else take a look can be the most helpful thing in the world.

How do you edit your work? How do you know you've hit the 'end-point' for a piece?

When Emily's not writing or rewriting, she's hunting down the nerdiest things on the internet and pretending she's a Time Lord. 

Find her at or on Twitter @Emilyksinger.

1 comment:

  1. Last week, I actually heard an agent say that she LOVES it when writers do major rewrites before they edit. Sweeping rewrites that COMPLETELY change the book. She said it's one of the best and fastest ways to improve the book without wondering whether or not you're making it worse. You can keep all of the best writing, but you're free to create new, better scenes if you're doing full-on rewrites.

    So I guess what I'M saying is do as you do, and then as you say, when it comes to rewrites followed by edits :).