Last week Part 1 of Tips for Rewriting provided three tips:
(1) There is no perfect first draft;
(2) Never look back; and
(3) Write, wait, edit.
Today I have other tips I hope you will find as helpful as I did as I came across them in reading on the topic of rewriting.
Tips in these two posts may not be in an exact order or progression with rewriting your manuscript, but I believe you can fit the puzzle pieces together.
Picking up with last week’s list:
Tip 4. Are You Bored?
While reading and revising your manuscript, ask the all important question, “Am I bored?” If you answer “yes,” then heed the advice often attributed to writer and teacher Margot Livesey:
If you are bored, it’s not because you’ve read that section so many times, it’s because it’s boring.
Remember great writing is always engaging. Think of the books you’ve read and re-read and read again. If the writing isn’t great writing, you are not going to waste your time reading it. Why then would someone want to read your writing if it isn’t great writing?
Lesson Learned: Make certain your writing is not boring you. If it is, your reader will be bored too.
Tip 5. Distance Yourself from Your Writing
This is hard! You know what you intended to write and most likely, you feel good about your manuscript. It is also likely that you will read your intentions into the manuscript.
Do something to trick yourself into believing you’re looking at something other than your own manuscript–use a different font, change the margins, use a different medium, work in a different setting. Before reading the text again, divorce yourself from the manuscript so that you read it as if reading it for the first time.
Lesson Learned: Distance yourself from your writing before reading it again. Trick yourself into seeing it as your readers will see it.
Tip 6. Structural Changes, Polishing and Finishing Touches
You’ve finished your first draft, celebrated like crazy, and taken some time away from your baby. Now it’s time to begin your first rewrite or second draft. A good time for structural changes.
The second draft and/or read through is the time to watch for major gaps. You are given the opportunity to rewrite sentences, paragraphs, scenes, or even whole chapters. Or you may decide to rewrite the entire book. There is no hard and fast rule here. You make this decision.
In your third drafting, you polish your manuscript, much like sanding down a house’s foundation. And lastly, those last finishing touches.
Basically, the first draft digs your book’s foundation, the second frames the structure, and the third entails finish work.
Lesson Learned: Think of drafts as if they were the phases of a construction job: foundation, framing and finishing.
Tip 7. The Eyes Have It.
One important part of writing and rewriting is asking others to read your manuscript. Another set or multiple sets of eyes will see things you, the writer, will miss because of your closeness to your work.
Remember your first draft is for your eyes only, but when you know your manuscript is ready for other eyes, send it out to as many friends as you can. These readers are called beta readers. Beta readers’ fresh eyes help you see what your book really is, not just what you think it is.
Lesson Learned: The writer is too close to his or her work to be the only reader at the end of the day.
These tips and the tips in Part 1 barely scratch the surface of the tips, suggestions, and mountains of advice for revising and rewriting manuscripts available through books and the Internet. What I have shared are those tips that have come to me thus far in reading, revising and rewriting my own manuscript.
There are no hard and fast rules about handling your manuscript. Each writer finds his or her groove or comfortable working style, and each has the right to do it their own way.
However, the Internet has provided us the ability to communicate worldwide about many topics, my favorite of which is writing. Through our community of writers and our sharing we can make each other better writers.
I leave you with a quote from writer Michael Crichton which sums up the rewriting process:
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.
What rewriting tips do have you used that you’d be willing to share here? Part of the reason for the blogging community is to share information. So, please leave comments below.