Everyone has different writing methods, and everyone has
different revision methods. That said, you never know what you might be missing
out unless you at least try a different way of doing things. You might find you
really like it.
That was the case when it comes to revision drafts for me. I
used to “save as” my file with a new draft number, then go through and make
changes to that document. Typically, this only included line edits and the
occasional paragraph rewrite. For me, it worked fine—I thought my first draft
of this particular story was pretty great and only needed a few tweaks.
Boy, was I wrong.
I tried my friend’s method. I can’t remember why I decided
to try it, but I went for it. Here’s how it goes:
- Wait a month (or longer) after finishing your
first draft. This is a great time to collect feedback, make a list of change
intensions or potential problems, and let your thoughts on the story simmer.
- Open your draft.
- Open a completely blank document.
- Put the two side by side and literally rewrite
it from scratch.
- After one or two rewrites (depending on how much
you need it), THEN you can go into line-editing combs drafts.
It’s daunting, honestly. And it takes a lot of time. Rewriting
50k+ words? Besides, I thought it would end up mostly a word-for-word retyping.
Wrong again. Even though I was pretty happy with my original draft (which had
gone through 5 combing “drafts” of line-edits already), as I got further into
the draft, I started changing more and more. And honestly, I’m so much happier
with this new rewritten draft.
Reasons I think rewriting from scratch is effective:
- If it’s not worth writing a second time, then
how much is it actually worth?
- You’ll find a lot to cut for a leaner, tighter
- It’ll free your mind to experiment with new
- You’ll find plot holes and have an easier time
finding spots to fix them.
- If you get stuck rewriting a scene, you’ll know
it’s a problem scene and it probably needed rewriting anyway.
This is going to be my method from now on! Even though it’s
exhausting and not as quick and easy as the smaller edits I was doing. But the
result is definitely worth it.