Wednesdays are for Writers: Nicole Collet on writing is rewriting

nicole01Writing is rewriting. I’m not saying anything new: Ernest Hemingway once said the first draft of a book was “sh*t” (textual words).

When you first write your book, you’re building it out of thin air. At this stage, it’s impossible to immerse yourself in each passage to come up with all the right details, lines of dialogue and metaphors. The first draft is not even the place for that, it’s merely a starting point so you have something to work on in the rewriting stage.

Even if you plan everything ahead, details and turns are bound to change to a certain degree. Robert McKee, in his wonderful book Story, affirmed that if nothing changes between the initial plotting and the completion of a book, then there’s something wrong.

The rewriting stage is when you are able to see clearly the potential of each passage and the book as a whole, and what can be enhanced or corrected. For me, writing accounted for 20% of the task. The remaining 80% was plain rewriting. I added and removed and shifted things, then added and removed and shifted some more. And more and more. New passages or chapters were included, old ones were dismembered, cut out, restructured or rewritten from scratch. It was quite a daunting task yet it paid off: by the end of this crazy marathon, I’m getting but raving feedback from readers.

Another part of rewriting is reading your book out loud once it’s fbook-editinginished. I strongly advise you to do that. When the book is finally ready, it has been patched up in so many places, that you lose track of the whole. Reading it out loud will help you detect continuity issues, superfluous or missing things or words, awkward sentences and unintentional rhymes. In my case, I even found two consecutive paragraphs, written during different editing stages, that contradicted each other!

Rewriting is fun and also a lot of work. Sometimes it brings headaches but also great gratification. The end result is priceless.

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Nicole Collet is Brazilian, with a BA in journalism and a MA in cultural management. She has published a non-fiction book and short stories in Portuguese. Having lived for ten years in the U.S., her main interests are human behavior and relationships, literature and arts, feminism and philosophy.

Her profile and works posted on Wattpad can be found at http://www.wattpad.com/user/RedSins

Comments

  1. Thank you for a most informative post. Great ideas and suggestions and it is spot on.

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