Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Writing Wednesdays - Rewriting

Hello everyone, I’m on a course this week, so it’s another short entry – but that’s alright, because what I’m talking about here is something that really, you need to do in practice. 

First off, hope at least some of you have considered signing up for Nanowrimo.  It really does help to be writing in a community.  If you are doing that, then leave this particular blog entry until later – the point of writing is to get words down, you can edit them later.  If you’re writing, then go and write! This will still be here when you get back.

Okay, so you have some finished text now right?

Last time, we were focused on editing – the final polishing to make your writing beautiful.  We went back over what we had written, replacing crutch words, adding punctuation, correcting spellings, and altering a few sentences.  This time, it’s a bit trickier – we’re going to be rewriting.

Rewriting is going over your story, and then writing large chunks, or even the entire thing, from scratch.  Sounds horrifying right? 

Well, for a start, work out which bits need rewriting – if the order of scenes needs rearranging, and where certain things have to be.  If you have something important you haven’t mentioned, then that’s somewhere rewriting can help – or you can just add in the occasional sentence.  You’re the one who can see what you have got, and what changes it needs.

So, now let’s say you’ve got something written.  To keep my examples short, I’m just going to do a little paragraph, but this can be applied to a much longer scene, or even an entire book.

So, here is the initial scene: (Yes, reused from the starting to write entry, writers are lazy)

Argen stared at the bowl in front of him, poking the unapetizing grey goo inside it with the bottom of his spoon, then lifted his head to glance over at Vairel, who was devouring his breakfast as though he hadn't eaten in weeks.
"I'm not letting you cook again." He told him coldly, shoving the bowl in the direction of the half-elf.  Vairel simply hummed in amusement, emptying his own bowl, and shoving it back to Argen to clean.

Here is it edited:
Argen stared at the bowl on the table before him, poking the unappetizing grey goo inside it with the bottom of his spoon.  He lifted his head to glance over at Vairel, who was devouring his breakfast as though he hadn't eaten in weeks.
"I'm not letting you cook again." Argen said coldly, shoving his food in the direction of the half-elf.  Vairel simply hummed in amusement, emptying his own bowl and shoving it back to Argen for him to clean.

So punctuation and spelling have been corrected, sentences have been rephrased – changes have been underlined to make it clearer.  Small changes, that I think make it read better, but no huge differences.

When I’m rewriting, I need to consider what change I want to make – do I need to change point of view?  What mood is conveyed in the scene?  What needs to happen?  What is the point of this piece?  Make a few notes of what you need.

For me in this example, the scene is to show the relationship and friendship between the two of them.  If I want to keep the basic structure of the scene, I am doing it in this way:
·         Vairel made breakfast and it’s disgusting
·         Argen is in a poor mood
·         Vairel is used to this, and not sympathetic

When I’ve made my notes, I write it out again – either looking at the previous attempt, or just at the notes:

Argen screwed up his face as he walked into the kitchen and was met with a bowl of indistinguishable goo, held out by Vairel.  He poked at it with a fork, glaring at the half-elf who simply smiled sweetly in return.
“I shouldn’t let you cook.” Argen muttered under his breath, picking some of the goo up with his fork and letting it drip between the prongs.  Vairel shrugged, devouring his own food as though he hadn’t eaten for weeks. 

“So you keep saying.  But I never see you change anything.”  Vairel answered with a laugh, mouth full of food.  Argen groaned, shoving his bowl at Vairel, who flashed him a bright grin, and handed over his own empty bowl for Argen to clean.

Of course, this piece still needs a bit of editing, but I’ve brought out the relationship more here – I’ve made it clear that this is a part of their normal routine, and shown how comfortable and relaxed they are around each other.   Personally, I like this one more as it makes Argen seem less severe.

Another way of rewriting is to take the same purpose – such as showing the relationship, but doing it in another situation – maybe start the previous night, or show them in a crowd.  As you write more, you will work out what works for you.

If you think a lot of it needs rewriting, then go through, and make basic structure overall – that way you don’t rewrite one thing to then find that it needs rewriting again to include something that wasn’t relevant at that time.

Rewriting takes time, but the end result will hopefully be much better than what you began with.

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