In January I mentioned that I love reading Kris Rusch’s business blog for authors. She and her husband Dean Wesley Smith have a lot of advice I agree with, especially when it comes to navigating traditional publishing contracts and all aspects of self-publishing.
But there is one thing that, every time I see it, I cringe a little.
They say not to rewrite. Edit, yes. Finish your story, edit it, and get it out there–whether that means sending queries to agent and publishers or putting it up yourself on Amazon. No rewriting.
In one way, I can see their point. I think they mean, don’t get bogged down in trying to make sure every t is crossed and every i dotted. Don’t forever fiddle with the story, trying to make it absolutely perfect. That makes sense to me, because the writer can’t do that. Heck, most editors and publishers can’t even make most stories absolutely perfect. There’s always going to be a typo or two that slips past…not to mention that the story’s perfection will always be subjective to readers anyway.
I, admittedly, have fallen into that with my stories. Before Forged Steel, the urban fantasy I’ve been working on since fall of 2011, there was HalfBlood, which can be seen on my profile here. It was abandoned at draft 3.5 in early 2011, after being worked on for 3 years. Before that, there was The Second Crown, which was worked on for between 5-7 years before (thankfully) being stuffed into a shoebox at the back of the closet.
Forged Steel is the one that has come the closest to being finished, and I’m still in the process of rewriting on it. But I’ve come to think that this is just part of my writing process. My first drafts can be very messy…and in the case of Forged Steel, I had no idea how much the story would change it’s shape. In a year’s time, it went from being a satirical novella to a planned series of five plus a novella and a prequel. In my case, I need to rewrite, otherwise my stories would be long, rambling messes.
I suppose not rewriting would work if you’re very much a detailed-outline type of person, or if your stories brew in your head long enough to come out fully formed on paper. But mine do not–often my first draft is a discovery draft to find out what the characters are trying to tell me and where the story is going.
So what about you? Do your stories need extensive rewriting, or can you get away with minor edits?