I suffered from a misconception with writing. I thought that more or less you would write one thing and then carefully patch that one thing, until it worked, a paper mache concept perhaps. But writing, and rewriting, are more akin to building a massive mansion with Lincoln Logs and then kicking it all over the place and then building a new version of the place with Legos. I lost you, didn’t I?
If you are serious about your writing, you want to not suck, so you are going to have to rewrite. The first draft is like the crumbs you leave on the ground to find your way home, or if your’e are more prudent the twine you would wrap around a branch to not lose your way. The first draft is a stake in the ground of your artistic creation, but everything that pops up around that stake will require just as much effort as placing that stake.
Okay enough with the metaphors and analogies. Here are some real tips for rewriting.
Don’t Rewrite in Begging to End Chronology. Mix it up. Maybe rewrite the climax portion first, then go back to the first chapter and then hop to the end chapter. Rethinking critical stages in the work will make the in-between portions much easier to write too. Also, these big exciting scenes are really what you need to get your head around to have the basic structure of your story.
Don’t Get Bogged Down in Your Suckiness– Rewriting will show you how much you suck, because you will probably have to rewrite a lot, but this is actually awesome once you embrace it. It sort of like any great passion, you have to take pleasure in the practice of the craft/skills. Writing ends up being less about having a good time and more like work once you really start trying, so embrace and develop your own Warrior Code to deal with your INFERNAL WEAKNESS! Oh sorry my inner Warrior Master came out there, I apologize.
Prime the Pump with New Creative Activity. Write scenes and backstory material that won’t even make it into this book, but will give you greater insight and let you have a little bit of fun. And don’t be scared to write something totally new too, or journal or hell don’t write, practice that guitar or paint, but once you have had your fun, go back to rewriting!
Read to Rewrite. Any time you lose enthusiasm in rewriting, it is time to jump back in the reading pool. No matter what genre you write in I highly doubt you have read as much of that genre as you should have and there are always new books coming out and new genres to explore. So get reading and pay attention to the mechanics of the writing as you do.
Seriously, Scrap It and Start Again. This is the hardest thing to get I think. All that effort you just put into that monstrous first draft, take it and shove it in the recycling bin, because that’s probably where it belongs! Wait, don’t do that, that was the Inner-Warrior Voice again, I apologize. Take that manuscript out. Find the delicious pieces, carefully excise and remove them, and smash them to a pulp and rebuild your story! It will get better in the rewrite but you better be ready to cut, and you better be ready to work, get going!
Ebooks and self-publishing trends may not encourage an emphasis on the rewriting phase and I think that would be a disservice to all. The rewrite is the most important tool for the independent writer because it is the stage when we will build our writing abilities. Your skill are the part of your success which is within your control, so take it seriously. Good luck!