Rewrites and Revisions: When Should You Change Your Story?

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Some of the greatest stories told are the ones written on the wedding day. Unfortunately, those can also have the saddest endings. Maybe those stories wouldn’t end in tragedies if the couple would rewrite, revise and edit the story of a life they pictured in the introduction and early chapters; reshaping them as their stories unfolded to suit the present narrative. It certainly helps if they have a good story consultant and editor. There is none better than God.

Michael Crichton, author of Jurissac Park and other sci-fi novels says, “Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”

When do you rewrite, and when do you revise?

Dictionary.com gives the following deffinitions:

  • Rewrite: to write in a different form or manner; revise: to rewrite the entire book.
  • Revise: to alter something already written or printed, in order to make corrections, improve, or update: to revise a manuscript.

As you can see, to rewrite and revise are two sides of the same coin, but to rewrite can imply something akin to carving an entirely new image on the coin instead rearranging or making minor alterations.

She Can See Gets Another Makeover

When ‘She Can See’ reached a fork in the road today that I knew would take the tale down a completely different path than the one I had previously mapped out, I had to decide if the new direction would lead the reader past more intriguing scenery or simply a different view? Would the new direction take the story over mountains that would make it stronger or loose the reader in a canyon?

Part of me said to stay on course lest I miss my goal of 2200 words a week. People are watching. What will they say if you fall behind? Will they return if they have to reread parts of a story?

Another part of me said that I wouldn’t be satisfied with the final product if I look back and see that I could have improved the story if only I would have put forth more effort.

Not So Fast With the Celebration

When Dr. Jackson learned from Myla’s blood test that ‘She Can See’, it was viewed as a reason to celebrate. However, as I worked my way deeper into the story, I discovered that her rare and unique gift had some serious negative consequences.

I was excited to see how this will add more tension, action and depth to the story. At the same time, I realized that I would have to go back near the beginning of the book to change the scene where Dr. Jackson reveals to Mrs. Dorsey that ‘She Can See’.

That also means that his conversations with Dr. Lew will need adjusting. It’s a cascade effect that will require some major rewriting of big portions of the book.

I have begun, but it would be pointless, even confusing to post additional updates from section .008 until the revised information is added.

To answer the question, ‘When should change your story?’ The answer is: Anytime it will make it better. However, a lot of changes can be avoided by thoughtful planning.

How do you handle rewrites and revisions?

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