Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rewriting and Editing

I spent all of last week rewriting and editing three BattleCorps stories I got feedback on from the workshop. I plan to send them to the workshop for a second round of look-overs before submitting them to Jason Schmitzer and BattleCorps. A fourth story is going to need more work done to it before I can send it back to the workshop.

Which brings me to the subject of today's posts: rewrites and editing.
I don't plot out short stories in any detail before I start. Instead, I start with an idea, a couple of scenes in mind, and maybe an ending. The result is I'm not always certain of the ending or how I get there. Stories tend to wonder, or have a plot that needs some work. Rewrites and editing are a must for a writer to know and use, because the number of authors who can write a perfect story in one draft are very few. I'm not one of those....

I always let the story sit for a while -- days, sometimes weeks -- before I start going through them again. It allows the details to fade from my mind, so i can look at it with fresh eyes. It's amazing what you find when you're not up to your eyebrows in writing a story. And since I have several other stories being written at the same time, it isn't hard to leave stories alone for a while.

When I rewrite/edit a story, I concentrate on four things:

1) Word Count -- I always write a bit long, so trimming is a must. That means going through and cutting extra words, compacting diolougue, and rewriting sentaces so they have less words than before.

2) Misspelled and misused words, and grammer. -- It's amazing the things I see when I go through a story I'm rewriting. Misspelled words, wrong verb tense, fragmented sentences, and other little grammer goofs are easier to spot after letting it sit for a while.

3) Plot holes and weaknesses -- This takes up most of the rewriting. Plots needs to be simplfied, characters eliminated, scenes fully explained and described. Does each characters actions make sense in the story's context? Does the plot hold together? Are there any plot points I missed?

4) Continuity and style check -- are there any stupid continuity mistkes? (Wrong rank, 'Mech not available during the time of the story, wrong planet) Are all the style guidelines being followed ('Mech names italicized, epigraphs [The time-place section that appears at the start of scenes] are in the right place, use of meterics)

Depending on how badly the story needs work, it can take anywhere between a couple of days to a full week to complete a rewrite of a story. I also tend to do these in groups of two or three stories, so I can stay "In the grove" instead of bouncing back and forth between rewriting and writing. Once I finish with all three, I'll send them back to the Workshop, and if there are no other major problems, send them to Jason before the end of the month.

That's all for now -- back to work!


1 comment:

  1. A thing I've found very much to be avoided is to get into an editing mindset while I'm still writing. Making the transition back to creating new stuff is very difficult.