Why You Should Rewrite Your Completed Manuscript
There is a reason that they call it the first draft; it means that it is not yet ready for publication! Rewriting it from start to finish makes the second version far better than the first. In this post, I will explain why rewriting your manuscript before submitting it to editors and proofreaders makes good sense.
I don’t just come up with these posts on a whim. Every post I write is based on personal experience and most are directed at giving aspiring authors quality advice.
At the moment, I am rewriting my manuscript for Genesis and thought it the perfect opportunity to share the reasons with you. One item at a time, I will walk you through why rewriting your completed manuscript before sending it off to editors is a good approach. I’m calling it a rewrite because I see it as much more than just an edit of your first draft.
Let’s get started:
1. Error correction.
This one should be common sense. A line-by-line rewrite will help you to identify and correct errors in spelling, word choice, punctuation, and sentence structure. Yes, the natural urge is to get your book into the hands of readers as soon as possible, but you want to provide them with a quality product.
The more errors you correct on your own, the less time (and money) will be spent on editors. Do not go into it as a quick scan edit; approach it with the intent of an entire rewrite.
2. Full knowledge.
When you begin a rewrite, you start with an advantage over what you had when you were writing the first draft. You already know the full story from beginning to end. With that in mind as you go through the rewrite, you will be able to enhance your story in ways you never realized while writing the first draft.
As an example, maybe you wind up developing one of your characters into a connoisseur of fine wines. If that’s the case, you may want to incorporate that she is an oenophile early on. The consistency throughout the novel will make it that much richer.
Speaking of consistency, once you have completed your manuscript, you will know your characters much better than you did at the start. That knowledge will help you to better develop your characters during a rewrite and will aid you in keeping them consistent.
Settings work the same way. Once you finish the first draft, you have a much better understanding of the settings you are using. As you go through a rewrite, you can enhance the settings where they are weak and keep them consistent throughout.
Personally, I believe this is the big one. A rewrite gives you the opportunity to choose words that better represent your meaning. If you’re like me, you write quickly. There is nothing wrong with writing fast but if you go that route, you should consider most of your words as placeholders, not as the final product.
Take this scenario for example:
“Suffering from being held in captivity for so long, she….”
“After languishing in captivity for far too long, she….”
Simple changes like that can be the difference between a good book and a great book. If you are trying to describe a cold, wet, and smelly basement, why not call it dank? One word can say it all.
5. Plot development.
Every word in your novel should contribute to the underlying plot.
A rewrite will help you eliminate extraneous details that don’t actually contribute to the story. When we are writing, we tend to get on a roll and write everything that pops into our minds. That’s a good thing as it provides us with plenty of content, but we want to moderate our digressions from the plot.
As an example, I might include an exchange between my protagonist and a fellow shopper at the supermarket during my first draft. During the rewrite, I may see that the brief conversation has nothing to do with my story and remove it entirely. Likewise, I might consider adding a new element that will contribute to the underlying plot.
How do I accomplish a rewrite when my temptation will be to just scan through what I have already written?
My suggestion would be that you print your manuscript and open a new project in your text editor. Going line by line from your printed copy, rewrite your manuscript from start to finish.
If you want a quality product for your readers and to save some time and money on editing, then rewrite your manuscript before you submit it to your editors.
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