#atozchallenge : R is for Rewriting #fiction #writing #quotes

Theme: Quotes from Authors and Bookish People about Writing

The A to Z Challenge is past its midway mark, and we’re still at it, blog visits, comments, making friends. I feel exhausted, but also rewarded. Meeting so many nice new people gives you a buzz nothing else can.

In the world of fiction, nothing kills buzz faster than the rewriting phase. Personally, I like it, it gives me perspective, and like tweaking everything I’d gorged out in the earlier drafts. And sometimes for me, rewriting is not just tweaks, it is re-imagining. I’ve gone and thrown away entire short stories and novels, because I felt I could tell the story better in some other way, or because the characters needed more room or less.

Here’s what authors who know what they are talking about have to say on the matter:

“The first draft of anything is shit.”—  Ernest Hemingway

“Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it
away. It’s a nice feeling, and you don’t want to be cluttered with the
corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the
life they need.”
— Helen Dunmore

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open. Your stuff starts out being just for you, in other words, but
then it goes out. Once you know what the story is and get it right — as
right as you can, anyway — it belongs to anyone who wants to read it. Or
criticize it.”
— Stephen King

“I would write a book, or a short story, at least three times–once to
understand it, the second time to improve the prose, and a third to
compel it to say what it still must say.”
— Bernard Malamud

“I have rewritten–often several times–every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” — Vladimir Nabokov

“There’s no reason you shouldn’t, as a writer, not be aware of the
necessity to revise yourself constantly. More than a half, maybe as much
as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn’t say I
have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind
of stamina. I can rewrite sentences over and over again, and I do. . . .And I think what I’ve always recognized about writing is that I don’t
put much value in so-called inspiration. The value is in how many times
you can redo something.”
— John Irving

“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on
paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite
in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also
interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of
unconscious association with the material.”
— John Steinbeck
Do you rewrite your story? How many times do you do it? After reading a book, did you ever wish a writer had rewritten more of it?

I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !


Add Yours
  1. Samantha Dunaway Bryant

    Someone told me that rewriting is where the art is. I think they were right. Without rewriting to sculpt and shape my writing into something purposeful with a trajectory the reader can follow, it's a collection of words, not a novel.

  2. tombensoncreative.com

    I tend to rewrite at least four times from my experience so far. I am about to start the fourth rewrite of my latest thriller, 'Amsterdam Calling'. I'm aiming to publish the eBook in mid-June, but if it isn't ready, I'd rather push the date back than affect the standard I'm trying to maintain.

  3. Laurel Garver

    Irving's quote spoke to me–a unique kind of stamina. Love it. I'm generally not content to do write the whole book in one go like Steinbeck suggests. I revise as I go using Elizabeth Berg's method (edit yesterday's work as a warm up, then continue moving the story forward).

    I actually prefer revision to drafting. I'm way out of my comfort zone getting the first messy words out.

  4. Fanny Barnes Thornton

    Great quotes (I especially liked Steinbeck's), and I need all the encouragement I can get to rewrite. I am presently 'trying' to rewrite a novel, which I find more difficult than I did writing it in the first place.
    Thank you for commenting on my blog, Amloki. I haven't forgotten you, it's just the frenzy of the A-Z that's interrupting my flow.

  5. dumcho wangdi

    A nice and encouraging words for the novice writers. I like writing but I often lack ways to make it complete. Some 2 years ago, I withdrew the idea to continue writing a book that was almost forming a shape. But now, I am encourage from a professional writers from you all.
    Thank you.

  6. Pradip Biswas

    As i am not a writer but a steno to my characters my process is simple. The characters that i see is the raw entry. Some times two or three characters would mix with each other and may form another character. After some times the characters start speaking to themselves and i was asked to transcribe their talks. i am not allowed to make any changes or amendments. i am permitted to weep, cry and laugh.

  7. justthinkingloud

    Hey nice read…I am kinda scared of proof reading my stuff…when i am writing I am in this hurry to just post it. After a few days when I read it again, I realize the mistakes- forget the flow there are plenty of spell and grammar mistakes as well..I correct those but not anything else.

  8. faeriembassy

    I re write – sometimes a little tweaking other times a complete refit . I have learnt to chuck the whole thing and start again or move onto something else. I try to perfect a rhythm a melody – this is important to me. and sometiimes I will have a tiny tweak on pieces that I wrote a long time ago . sI am learning to know when to stop
    and mostly that is when it is singing to me.
    Sandra a to z er 'life without television'

  9. klahanie

    Hey Damyanti,

    How R U? Never have the need to rewrite. I just actually do go with the flow and what do you know, it's good at my show.

    Thank goodness this silly A to Z will soon be over. I miss my blogging friends 🙂


  10. Cheryl KP

    I tend to agree with Steinbeck. I am doing a lot of revising with my work in publishing it on the blog; and stil, it will need work before an attempt to pubish it. I look at writing as a metamorphosis?

  11. Sophie Duncan

    I've had several stories that I've rewritten multiple times – one of my novels I reworked four times before I was happy with it, even going so far as to change the continent it was set on 🙂

    I haven't read a book and straight off thought the writer should have rewritten more of it, but I have watched a movie which I loved and gone to read the book and hated it, so I have thought the screenwriters did a better job (not very often I have to say though) – this happened with Haunted, a brilliant movie with Aidan Quinn and Kate Beckinsale and a not so brilliant book by James Herbert,
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles – A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX – A to Z Drabblerotic