Blog Of Writing +1

Edit or rewrite? What would you do?

After spending what was left of my afternoon reading articles on getting published and how apparently I need an agent for traditional publishing, I began rereading my story. First came the joy of reading what I wrote… I mean, this was my story! My characters!

Then I stumbled over a sentence where I had to change a few words around to give it a better flow.

Suddenly I was whisked away again, on my journey through the nighttime atmosphere of Villenoire. As I followed Jefferson, my protagonist, away from his orphanage and toward the silken tents of the circus, I grew proud of the world I was creating. The funny thing is, the world is still evolving. That portion of the story is very well thought out and my writing is of a commercial quality.

Further along, however, not as lucky.

My descriptions are farther apart than the beginning. The story begins to get dialogue heavy. Suddenly, there are more locations and I begin to wonder… where in the world is this place?

For all of you pantsers out there, take note. This is exactly the problem writing with no plan will get you into. You see, writing with no plan is very liberating. You write one word after the other and for me, I let my characters guide me. I’ve spoken of my method before; Five plot points, and the direction was dictated by the actions of the people. This worked well to get the whole idea down… but now it has left some gaps.

This has left me with the title question: Do I edit or rewrite? Both have their benefits.

Editing would keep the completed story as its current version. As good as that is, it would take quite awhile to fine tune it to the point where everything fits together like a puzzle. For Tolkien, his world included the map, which made everything tangible. If I edit, there could still be some lingering piece of description that I miss. As a perfectionist, that would definitely frustrate me.

Rewriting would carry the benefit of having the story’s plotline in such great detail that if I broke the current novel into points, a rewrite wouldn’t take as long as the initial copy. Also, cohesion would be at its best this way as once the world is fleshed out, I can ensure from page one that everything will be the same and work together. On the other hand, the idea of a rewrite seems daunting… especially when I have seven novels stirring in my brain.

From these brief points, rewriting seems a better way to go… much to my dismay. I mean, no one ever wants to start from page one again. But with that comes the ability to add in further detail to make the world I’m creating a real place. Not only that but if I factor in the other trilogy I have in mind… if it was ever made into a movie it would be awesome for people to point out the ruins of a 2000-year-old Villenoire or other prominent locations from Jefferson’s story. This idea is exciting for me, almost more so than the stories themselves. It’s that world building that got me interested in fantasy novels and video games in the first place, so this is no surprise to me!

Now… as is always the problem with us writing types…

When do I start?

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3 thoughts on “Edit or rewrite? What would you do?

  1. Hi TJ! I’ve got one chapter right in the middle of one of my older novels-in-progress that will require a rewrite versus editing because its situation is implausible for my story. I can’t leave it as is because it mucks with my timeline and just doesn’t make sense. The rest of the doc I’m just editing. You know, reading through and cleaning up things like repetitions, word choice, flow, and unnecessary elements that don’t move the story forward. I say go through with an editor’s eye, making notes along the way where a rewrite might be helpful. Then see how much you need to do and go from there.

    1. Hey Nikki! Thanks for stopping by! I understand what you mean in regards to rewrite only what you need to. My only problem is that I pantsed the whole thing, so there is a certain lack of world cohesion that I suppose is why I was drawn to fantasy as a genre in the first place. As world building is so important, I feel as though once I’ve broken the novel down and gained a sense of where things are literally, then it will ground the work to make it more believable. As for the ole editor’s eye, mine is rusty and works good on grammar and the such, but lacks around the details. For instance my fiancée pointed out there is one whole chapter that is 90% dialogue. In my mind I justified it by thinking, if someone had just died, would the people affected by that really be worried about the colors of the drapes or the smells lingering in the air? Especially given that they had to hide the body? At my father’s funeral for instance, I remember I wore black and that everyone was sad, but don’t ask me what the church smelled like or what color the walls were. Grief was blinding in a sense.

  2. I struggled a lot with this when I first started “editing” my current work in progress. I tried to just edit it, smoothing over the plot holes and tweaking scenes that didn’t work, but quickly started thinking maybe I needed to rewrite the whole thing instead. Which felt… well, discouraging, but also somehow /wrong/. Like it was a waste of all my effort to rewrite everything from scratch, or like it might throw me into an endless spiral of rewriting and rewriting and never being happy with it. But looking back on it now, I’m glad I’ve chosen to rewrite. The story and world has grown so much that it really needs a new, fresh approach to make it what it needs to be. Plus, the plot holes were so big I don’t think I could have just “smoothed them over”, yikes.

    The important thing is that you’re still in love with your world and its characters, and that can get you a long way. All the best with the rewrites!

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