Sunday, January 17, 2010

Rewrite v. Edit

Both are important to the writing process but it seems some people don't know the difference between the two and in my opinion there is a big difference. A writer needs to do both during their path of trying to finish books/stories and try for publication.

I will use one writing book as an example in this blog and while I disagree with much of it, and may talk a bit of smack, it's a great book for the general romance fiction writer. The book is called "On Romance Writing" and it talks about many different aspects of writing. However, the qualm I have with the book is its discussion on this topic and that's the reason for doing this blog post.

Before I talk about the difference between the two, I want to quote one of the things from the book that I actually agree with as it's part of what I believe when writing a first draft.
"Just write the story. Don't fret about finding exactly the right comparison, and don't worry
about making every single line of dialogue sparkle. That's what second drafts are for."
This is from the Revising Your Manuscript chapter of the book. And it's true.

Now to the main topic of this blog post: What's the difference between an edit and a rewrite?

Edit is more of the smaller changes (not always small but in their type). Grammar, sentence structure, and sometimes the order of things is what I would consider an edit. There's a reason the person who checks the newspaper articles for errors before they get posted is called a copy Editor. This is also where a person can look for inconsistencies in character descriptions (eye color, hair, etc), how names are spelled (that includes names of objects and locations) and other similar errors. Edits are very important because you don't want to send out a manuscript that is full of errors.

Rewrite is a big change. It is taking what has already been written and doing it again in a different way, with the idea more developed and having more direction than the first draft. It doesn't focus on grammar as much though there is still the search for the best sentences and chapters. They can either increase a word count or decrease, depending on what the first draft needs fixed on that level. The tense can change in a rewrite as well as the POV. Even the main character can change with it comes to a rewrite when the author realizes they have been telling the wrong character's story. There is so much change and improvement that goes on with the rewrite process and almost every book should get at least one rewrite, but not twenty, lol.

Those are the differences and both are important to the writing process. But also, don't forget to stop at some point. There will always be a way to fix or change. Have to follow my art professor's advice here. He used to tell us "A painting is never finished, it is only abandoned." The same applies to a novel. At some point you have to abandon the story, say goodbye and send it out.