For me learning to rewrite a draft was NOT an easy road.
Stage #1 - Complete Ignorance
- in my first rewrite, I had no idea what I was doing. I went through the draft, fixed all the typos, tweaked some sentences, and was daring enough to eliminate a couple of paragraphs here and there
- then I met some amazing folks over at Agent Query Connect and learned that a rewrite should be a slightly more intense process
Stage #2 - Gaining Confidence
- the next step in my journey was realizing that everything I'd written in my first drafts didn't have to be included in the final draft. I could take out entire scenes. I could move entire scenes. Change pov.
- these realizations actually shocked me, and took me a while to wrap my head around
- at this point, I carefully saved each new 'draft' with a date indicating the changes
Stage #3 - Gaining Crit Buddies
- this changed my world and burst my naive little bubble. And I will be forever grateful.
- I learned that a rewrite involved more than the tweaking I'd been doing.
- reaching deep down into the story was pretty tough. I was faced with some big realizations. Probably the biggest one was that external conflict isn't enough. There needed to be internal conflict too. For both my MCs (I write romance).
- this involved re-reading and re-writing scene by scene, making changes, keeping track of changes, making notes, deleting favourite scenes & lines, adding conflict (lots and lots of adding conflict)
- I no longer saved drafts, only the main one, with a folder (I'd discovered Scrivener at this point) with the very few scenes I though I might want to reuse or rescue somehow
Stage #4 - A Real Rewrite
- I tried my Stage 3 version of rewriting for several of my novels, and found it very discouraging. Several stories I know have tons of potential were languishing. I also discovered Stage 3 is HARD. Very hard. For me, a million times more difficult than writing a first draft.
- I decided to dump all my chapters and scenes into a new Scrivener folder titled Draft 1
- because I love (LOVE!!) writing first drafts, I decided to treat Draft 2 like a Draft 1
- I rewrote the draft from scratch. At first I found it tough to not peek at the first draft, but it definitely got easier. The changes I needed to make were core changes and because of that, the story changed dramatically, while keeping the same basic plot elements, and I already knew those plot elements, so I didn't peek.
Stage #5 - Unknown
- as I'm evolving as a writer, I know my style will change too
- I've got 5 or 6 stories begging for rewrites (I was stuck fast in Stages 2 & 3 for far too long) and at this point I'm nearly salivating wanting to do a Stage 4 rewrite for each of them
- I wonder if I'll have discovered Stage 5 by the time I get to them all?
Learning to write well (and to rewrite well) is a personal journey. My journey will probably look nothing like yours, but I hope by sharing mine, you might find some ideas to help you move along to the next step. Or suggestions as to what Stage 5 might look like for me!
Do you rewrite? Do your rewrites look anything like mine?