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The Power of the Redraft or Rewriting

March 18, 2010

Todays Guest Writer is Benjamin.  Thanks for your great post!

Having worked with Jodi before as my editor and mentor in a sense, I honestly recommend the series on editing here at Write Anything. Editing is an important part of becoming a writer and improving your work so that someone might want to publish it.

But I wanted to talk about something that I’ve learnt over the past year as a writer that comes before the tough and detailed editing – the redraft or the rewrite.

I bet we’ve all heard countless times about the first draft meaning not a lot and the importance of just getting the story out there. This really cannot be emphasised enough. It is virtually impossible to write something perfect the first time.

I see the first draft as kind of an outline. I write with the intention of exploring the characters and giving me a rough idea of where they might go and how they get there. My first drafts are often messy and I’ve particularly noticed that the pace of the story and where the climax of the action is appears to be way off in this draft.

It is after writing this draft, or perhaps even during it, that I have a better idea of how the story might progress. I also learn a lot about the characters by writing with them. At the start of the first draft, those first few descriptions might seem shallow or undeveloped, but by the start of the second draft, the main character enters to the story already rounded and clear in my head.

The second – and third, or fourth, or fifth – drafts offer you a chance to streamline and perfect the pacing, events and climax of the story, often changing details, the emphasis on certain events and emotions or endings in particular.

I’ve found that editing around the basic skeleton of that first drafts leaves you with not a lot to work with and makes that task of editing all the more difficult.

Benjamin is now working on a short story that he rewrote 3 or 4 times, and even after Jodi’s extensive editorial help, is thinking of rewriting it again. You can follow his writing progress and his other thoughts over at his blog.

  1. March 20, 2010 12:00 am

    ohhh the pain of the redraft… on its third or forth life!! Though as awful as it may be – it really is all worth it ( I keep telling myself)
    I great , truthful post – thanks for sharing Benjamin.

  2. March 23, 2010 12:55 am

    Thanks Annie.

    Sometimes it’s just not worth going through another edit when you’ve come so far with the characters that you need to re-imagine them again.

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