Rewriting myths can bring an end to an unfinished process. Read on so you can stay on track and avoid the pitfalls.
Few aspects of the writing life come with more ugly myths attached than the rewriting process. So often I hear writers give wrong headed views about what comes once they face a rewrite of their manuscript.
This post is aimed at writers who have a completed fiction or non-fiction manuscript, or screenplay, that needs a rewrite but who have been fed a lot of malarky about the process through the years.
Here are four real life truths about rewriting myths:
Rewriting Myth 1: Rewriting Means My Manuscript Is Bad:
On the surface, I can understand this fear. There simply is not a better word than “rewrite”.
I’m sure some readers have visions of other “re” words, like “remodel” which implies more radical process. Tear down. Strip bare. Start over.
Sometimes that radical process is the case. Sometimes we have to tear down a manuscript completely in order to find the book inside. That is only sometimes though.
Most often rewriting is a process of orderly streamlining. It’s more of a face lift rather than a tear down.
Rewriting Myth 2: That Will Happen Later:
Right… one way or another, you are going to rewrite your manuscript. Whether that comes after fifty slow arriving rejection letters or in preparation for fifty submissions is up to you.
The writing is on the wall. If you read the calls for submissions in trade magazines, publishers are seeking polished manuscripts from first timers.
You’ll see it in the description. Polished prose. Developed scenarios. No first drafts.
Don’t be the writer who tests that request. It never ends well.
Rewriting Myth 3: My Story Will Get Lost In The Process:
I love when a writer tells me that they are reluctant to rewrite because they are afraid to lose their story. This is such an unfortunate misunderstanding shared by all too many novices.
A first draft is simply a first draft. Core themes are often buried and obscured under what amounts to a writer’s search for meaning on the page. Often when I work with writers on their first draft we discover the most valuable elements under the surface and we work together to draw them out into the open.
Odds are a development editor will help you find your best story in the rewrite process.
Rewriting Myth 4: Editors Are All Out Of Work And Now They Need Money:
This is, at least in part, true… Big publishing houses do not staff editors like before. There is no longer a legion of ink stained and print addled editors agonizing over copy at your dream publisher’s office.
Those editors are not out in the cold freelancing world because their jobs were deemed irrelevant though. Those editors are out there because publishing houses are counting on you, the writer, to do more of the heavy lifting than ever before.
The truth is that editors are more necessary than ever because the competition to push through the slush pile is more fierce and cutthroat now than at any other time.
These myths are just that. The process of rewriting doesn’t have to be so painful but it is a necessary step in the evolutionary process that is your manuscript. I have helped many a nervous writer through the process and I know I can help you too. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you feel stuck at this or any other stage in the process.