I know, it’s a pretty tall statement: rewriting a story like a pro?? Is that possible for us to do?
Yes, it is.
Over time, I have developed my own rewriting process (that works really well!) and received a request from my older sister to blog about my editing process.
First up, I must shed light on the difference between editing and rewriting:
REWRITING: When you have finished your first draft, you rewrite your book. This is when you change scenes, possibly kill characters, and make everything better in general. You may rewrite a book several times over before you are satisified with it.
EDITING: When you are satisfied with your book, you go through it and edit the grammatical errors inside it.
Now that we have that established, let’s get on with the rewriting process.
The first thing I always do when rewriting a book is to make a list.
This list is going to be you jotting down all things you want to change, think need to be changed, and definitely must. This can range from name changing to plot twists. Literally, everything goes down on this paper.
An example from me rewriting The Triad of Caosdif:
Note: I took out points that would spoil the book, and changed all character names I wrote. Names were changed in the rewrite.
- Lilith’s and Maddi’s personalities essentially swap after they run off. Lilith must have her personality set from the beginning; Maddi’s is a cover up, so she’s fine.
- Set up a personality for Alex, and STICK WITH IT! The parts you attempt to make him humorous are extremely cringey. Spare me.
- SAME GOES FOR TYSONNE! Is he strong? Or is he weak? Either pick one and stick with it, or SHOW CHARACTER GROWTH!
- Why is it that Derek is the only one who actually has a great personality for him for the whole book?
- Check what point in time corsets and skirt cages were made in
- Maddi and her cape; either the fact she can carry lots of random stuff in it needs to go, or it has to stay in the rest of the story.
- Gretel needs to be more suspicious about them; random people stumble upon her hut in the middle of nowhere? She used to be a samurai? Have her holding a katana or something AT LEAST!
- And speaking of her, YOU FORGOT ABOUT THE WEAPONS SHE GAVE THEM. Make sure that they train with them, and actually use them after the scene with the dragon!
- Not such a big info dump about foxes, please.
- Maddi’s past is kind of introduced a bit weird? Work on that.
So, much yelling going on there. But I get exasperated with myself when I think about all the things I need to change from a 210-page long draft, okay? 😂
I actually didn’t include all the points I wrote down, because… spoilers. I’m talking more about my WIP with you guys, but I don’t want to tell you everything. 😉
Anyway, now that we’ve written down this long list, what do we do with it?
It’s time to figure out how you’re going to fix these. What will they be changed to? How will they? And what time frame will it be changed for? (That last one is kind of optional; this can apply to things like changing names, characters personalities changing, or completely cutting out characters.)
This can be pretty difficult sometimes. I actually went through my entire first draft remembering something that I would need to change, but with no solution. I happened to be bored while at SAIT City Career Exploration during lunch (that was when we got to ‘try out’ 2 different careers, and get a better idea of the kind of job we wanted) and there were paper and pens there. So, I picked up a piece of paper and began writing down ideas for in my rewrite. I actually managed to find solutions to several difficult changes I was going to make within the rest of the break.
It’s a lot easier for you after this step is done (both on your conscience, and stress level. You don’t have to always be thinking that you still need to find your solutions. 😃) and you can begin the actual rewriting.
During my rewrite, I open one blank document and my first draft. I set them side by side and began typing in the blank one.
The great thing about doing it this way is that you don’t have to try to change it all in one document (and find all the parts in there) with it all crowded together. It’s easier to write out the changes in a blank one, and with the first draft besides it, you can easily type out the same stuff that you want to keep. As you go along, you can change small things (like descriptions) and make the book sound better as well.
Before you go off and start rewriting your book, here’s a final tip: read through your old scene first before you rewrite it.
If it’s been a while, you can go through it like a reader, and get an idea of the flow of writing. Where is it rocky? Smooth? Random? It also allows you to remember everything with clarity, and see if there’s anything you forgot to add to your list that you want to change. (It happens)
Story Writing = Too Much?
I had a plot bunny take up residence in my head recently, and I really loved it. (Hint: there’s dragons in it!)
But… I realised over my Easter break that I just was taking on way to much at once. I was rewriting The Triad of Caosdif, I want to rewrite some parts of The Storm Inside then update it, I have The Frost waiting for me for when I’m done both of those, I still have Once Upon a Goose on my conscience but it’s refusing to work for me, and now this one as well?
It was way too much.
I decided that it was time to make some breathing room.
If you scroll up to the menu, there’s a page called WIPs. The Goose Girl is no longer on that page.
That’s right. I finally chucked that one into the trash can. I just won’t work the way I plotted it. Maybe in a few years I’ll dust off the old papers, and figure out how to actually fix it, but for now, I’m just keeping it out of my life. 😆
I also know The Storm Inside won’t take that long to take care of, and it’ll mostly be formatting stuff that I want to work on. I’m just making a mountain out of a molehill.
And after I read this post by Kellyn Roth, I decided that I have to leave that plot bunny alone while I’m rewriting The Triad of Caosdif.
So yeah. My list of books to write has been slightly shortened, I have less to think about, and can now attempt to focus once again on The Triad of Caosdif. 😊
How do you do your own rewriting?
Does this process make sense to you?
Are you going to try it?
What do you think about my changes for my writing?
Photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash
14 thoughts on “How to Rewrite Your Story Like a Pro”
Ohhh yes rewriting. LOVE REWRITING. *sobs* 😂I’m just kidding, I actually do find rewriting very satisfying although WAY harder than drafting because the book actually has to make sense at the end. One of my biggest things is just constantly thinking about the book and mentally working through plot holes and how to make scenes better. I always write way too long 1st drafts too, so my rewrites are all about what scenes can I cut/combine. And I definitely write lists too.😂Lists save lives.
I actually like rewrites better in general than the first draft, because you don’t have to worry about not having enough to write about and you get to watch something you’ve worked really hard on become even better. 😃 I have a special love of cutting scenes because that means that they suck and now my book is better. 😂
Awesome post! I often beat myself up over awful drafts too :(. GL on your book!
Thanks, Zella! 😃 I’ve started rewriting The Storm Inside to give myself a break from The Triad of Caosdif, and it’s actually going really well. 😊
This is super helpful… even if you’re like me, shouting to the world “HOW DO I START MY BOOK?!?!”
But really, this is super helpful! I’m definitely saving this for future reference!
I’m glad that it is! 😃 And don’t worry, I have a draft on that subject that’ll eventually make an appearance. 😉 Although I do think I have an old post hanging around on that as well. (7 Ways to Start a Story)
That’s just what I was looking for (for real)! Thanks!
Awesome! I’m glad it helped you! 😄
I love your tips!!!!! How do you even come up with this helpful stuff?! Definitely going to use these tips. The thing with me is, when I write a story, I end up never finishing it, no matter how hard I try. *sighs*
Thanks! Well, mostly through trial and error. (LOTS of error. 😂) Do you plot it? I used to never finish things either. But then I discovered plotting.
If you don’t like plotting, here’s one tip though that works really, really well: just figure out the ending. Write the ending before the beginning. It’s like… when you’re driving a car, you have to know where you’re going. By knowing the ending, you know where your story is going and can shoot for that.
That makes sense!! I’ll try to write the ending first and see if that works. 🙂
No problem! And best of luck with your writing! 😃
Lovely post, Julia! I’m getting into some serious rewriting/revising myself pretty soon, so hopefully that will all work out. *nervous laughter*
Best of luck with your revisions! Sounds like you’ve got it down. *two thumbs up* (And thanks for linking to my post!!! So sweet of you. ❤ )
Thank you! I actually find rewriting easier than the first draft? (I am so weird 😂) But after a while, it does get tedious. I’m sure your’s will go well!
Thank you! 😃 No problem!