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September 18, 2013 / anthonykzullo

6 Steps to Rewriting Your Novel

So the other day I did a post about why you should rewrite your novel.  Now I wanted to explain how to rewrite your novel, or at least, how I do it.

1.  The Not-so Obvious Step:  Finish Your Novel

Why is this step not-so obvious?  Well, I and many other aspiring authors, I’m sure, have gotten into the trap of editing or reading your first draft before you finish it.  Then we suddenly get demoralized since our first drafts suck, because they’re really just brain vomit right now; or worse, we give up the novel halfway through because we get sick of the story, or it feels like the story is too overwhelming!  If this hasn’t happened to you, consider yourself very fortunate.

I remember all too well the promising false starts with so much promise turning into absolute mush.  For everyone out there still struggling to finish their first draft, try not to read your story before you finish it.  And definitely, don’t try to rewrite it.

2.  Print Out that Beautiful First Draft

Hurray!  You did it!  Now you can print out that beautiful manuscript.  You have won, but the fun’s not over just yet.  Now comes the part where you turn that word vomit into real art!

3.  Wait!

Give yourself some time before you start the rewrite.  Your brain needs a rest from the work.  I like to give myself a couple months.  During this time, I get huge urges to rewrite it right away and make it sound all pretty, but then I bite my tongue and cheek and like Fat Amy say, “Nah… better not.”

What helped me during this last time was writing this other story that I was thinking about.  It was first person and vulgar, very different than what I was writing.  It was very fun though, and it helped me to pass the time between drafts.

4.  Read the Draft and Write Down Problems

After you’ve let enough time pass, then read your draft and make important comments like:  wrong eye color; bad dialogue; or what was I thinking?  You’re probably going to see some really juicy parts where you think, “Man, I’m a genius!”  It feels awesome.  But then you read those other parts.  The ones that you wouldn’t have been able to see so well if you had tried rewriting immediately.  Those parts make you want to give up and can even hurt your self-esteem as an author.  They make you want to bash your head in the table and say, “I’m never going to get this!”

No, you will!  Just believe!

5.  Retype Everything and Be Malleable

Now starts the rewriting process.  As you slowly make your way through the rewriting pile, all you need to do is go through your work a chunk at a time, then sit at your computer, read, and retype everything.  Give your mind another pass at the story!  Your story will improve because of it.

6.  Rewrite Again

A lot of your story will start to sound pretty decent now, but rewriting your story once won’t fix everything about it.  Now would be a good time to go through and do a quick edit.  Then, if you find passages that you still don’t like, rewrite them again!

Rewriting is an important part to getting the best novel that you need.  Read more about reasons why you should rewrite your first draft.

Anthony Zullo is a novel writer who aims to self-publish his book in late 2013 or early 2014 The Guardian’s Charge:  Book I of the Bloodborn Series, which is a paranormal/dark urban fantasy about what happens when the six alien Gods of Niburu return to Earth to decide the fate of all Life.  To follow his pondering thoughts and to communicate with him, check out his twitter @anthonykzullo.

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