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Behind the Scenes: Why Rewriting is More Important Than You Think

Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.

Larry L. King, WD

My biggest obstacle currently is rewriting and editing. It’s consuming my life and I am so over it – I seriously feel like I’m going insane. It’s been a crazy process, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding. I’ve learnt so much and I’ve really learnt just how important rewriting is in the whole process.

When I am in the zone, I write quickly. I try to smash all my ideas out in one hit and end up with some grammatically incorrect sentences and typos. I proofread, of course, but sometimes I miss things in the proofreading process. When I edit, I go over everything with a fine-toothed comb. This means I pick up some things I missed when proofreading and helps me sentences sound better and my writing appear more professional and concise.

While I was editing I realised I had created my main character as a ‘Mary Sue’. She had no flaws and was a perfect character, which is just ridiculously unbelievable. She was too perfect and even I cringed when I reread the first draft. I had to change this and create an actual person rather than some perfect fantasy character – I had to give her flaws.

The rewriting process has taught me how to introduce flaws into my characters and how to make them more believable. It’s hard to create a character with flaws when it’s your own writing, but it’s so necessary. I made my characters feel more and have arguments with each other – I realised that arguing is expected in a high-stress, post-apocalyptic world. Especially when you’re quite different people.

Character development is what I value most as a reader of fiction. If an author can manage to create the sort of characters who feel fully real, who I find myself worrying about while I’m walking through the grocery store aisles a week later, that to me is as close to perfection as it gets.

J. Courtney Sullivan

I would think about my characters, feel bad for the situations I put them into, and want the absolute best outcome for them. This is how I knew I no longer had ‘Mary Sue’ characters. I actually felt invested in my characters and they’d become real people to me. They had real interactions and feelings.

But, then came the next issue. I didn’t want to put them into bad situations. I wanted the best outcomes, and I wrote in great outcomes and good situations that just didn’t feel right. It felt forced – and no wonder, because the choices weren’t what my characters would do. They had their own minds and own personalities and I had to accept that.

I had to let the character development come before narrative development and let the characters tell their story. I couldn’t force them to do what I wanted them to do, it just didn’t sound right. They had their own story to tell and I had to write that, rather than what I wanted the story to tell.

Sometimes as writers, we try and put narrative development above character development. We try to move our characters around like chess pieces that do our bidding. The problem with that is sometimes the characters do things they shouldn’t do. Things that are inorganic.

Jeff Nichols

It’s hard to let the story play out the way it should. It’s hard to let the characters be in charge of their own story. But, it has to happen. This meant that half my novel has been rewritten and the plot has completely changed from what it originally was. I introduced new characters and new scenarios and took out things that just didn’t make sense.

It was hard to let go of some things. I had it in my head how I wanted the story to end, but that’s not the way the characters would end it. I had to change my ending and change my entire mindset to create something that was realistic for the characters and the world they live in.

Editing is always a necessity when you want to be a published author. Your plot can change, characters be molded and grammar be perfected. If you want your work out in the open, it needs to be good. Bad writing gets bad reviews and I certainly don’t want to be called a terrible author. I want people to read my writing and enjoy it – or, at the very least, finish it.

I’m still neck-high in the editing process but I’m looking forward to completing it and moving forward with my writing journey!

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