Learning The Craft of Writing

Join me on my journey on learning the craft and business of writing

Revision vs Rewrite

2017-08-16 status Michael

Several years ago I worked for a small web design firm. It was so small, I was employee number four and there was no employee number five. For a time, one of my jobs was to write little blurbs to be used for SEO. The idea was I would write three blurbs and each one was broken up in to three segments. Each segment had to be written in such a way that any segment one could be followed by any segment two and so on. The SEO tool would then take the nine sections (3 blurbs with 3 sections) and generate 27 unique stories.

Well what I learned at that time was, in every situation, my third blurb (which I view as a third rewrite of a story) was always the best and most concise story. I’ve noticed since then, that often my first attempt at anything creative is okay, but if I were to redo it, by at least my third try, it’s much better. I even ran into this same issue with programming. Last week I wrote some code for a work project and today I decided I need to rewrite it since I came up with a better way to execute the code.

Can you guess where I’m going after that introduction? Today I’ve realized, I need to re-write my story, and the deadline for submittal is 9 days away. I’ve only seen one person’s feedback (via a picture that was texted to me) and based on the amount of ink on the page, I have a lot to fix. But what do I need to do to fix the story? Do I revise my existing story or just use it as a general reference and rewrite the whole thing? I wonder if a major revision is just a “nice” way of saying a rewrite.

My wife told me I don’t have time to rewrite the story and so I should just revise it, but the problem I discovered with the story is, the story has the wrong antagonist. And if I revise the story to use the correct protagonist, I’m not sure if any of my scenes will stick around at all. And what scares me, if the way I work requires that I rewrite things to make them better, I don’t want to get to the end of a 80,000 word story and then put it aside and start over.

My solution? I’ll assume any story needs to be rewritten so just rewrite the outline instead. What I write based on my outline can be revised, but to save myself a lot of hassle down the road, I need to save my rewrites to my outlines only, since they are what define the story, and rewriting story elements caused the problem I’m in now. Unfortunately this story can’t be saved, and I really do think that I’m going to need to rewrite it, but where to find the 4-5 hours to hammer out the first draft, and get edits done, before the deadline of the 25th? I just don’t know if I’ll be able to.

comments powered by Disqus