Revising vs. Rewriting

We’re halfway through January. So how are you doing with your resolutions and goals? Do you still remember what they were?

Last week, I crossed off a big one. I finished this round of revisions and sent it off to The Agent on Thursday. Sound the trumpets.

No, it’s not “done” yet. But I need a break. I need to clean my house and get my stuff together for my accountant. While I’m taking that break, I figure The Agent might as well take a look at it and give me her thoughts and suggestions. Because right now I feel like I’m bumping around in the dark and could use someone to shine a light on things for me.

Hopefully, the comments I get back will involve only revisions. ONLY revisions. What I’ve just spent the last six months doing was a rewrite more than a revision. What’s the difference? Well, here’s my distinction:

Revising involves tinkering with words, moving scenes around, fixing odds and ends. Since I live in Pennsylvania, the home of the orange barrel, I compare it to repairing a road. Patch some potholes. Resurface a stretch here and there.

But rewriting is starting with a blank page and creating new prose. Yes, I copied and pasted chunks from the older version. But a lot of what I did was completely new. I changed my protagonist’s past, her voice, her outlook on life, and the tone of the story. Or at least I hope I did. That was the plan. To use my roadwork comparison, rewriting is like tearing up an existing highway and laying down a new roadbed. Maybe rebuilding a bridge or an exit ramp.

Revising takes weeks. Rewriting takes months.

So now I wait to hear whether I’ve been successful in my efforts.


JC Cassels said…
I feel your pain!

Thanks for sharing this Annette. Sometimes, I'm never sure what I'm doing, rewriting, revising, editing, or completely avoiding finishing so I don't have to face the dreaded rejections.

Enjoy your break.
Annette said…
LOL,JC! Yes, avoidance is a big issue.

I think we all come up with our definitions for the steps in the process. Ramona Long recently pointed out that "editing" is done by another person (an editor). What we do to our own work is "revising." But I still catch myself calling some of the revision process editing. Self-editing is probably more accurate.
Fred Connors said…
Nice work, Annette. Clearly, you are headed down the right road.
Annette said…
Thanks, Fred. One can only hope...
Ramona said…
One of my stories needs so much work, I think I have to call it revamping.

Congrats, Annette, for meeting that big, big goal.

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