Revision Versus Rewriting – What’s the Difference?



Annabel Smith

I’ve tasted the victory of typing the last line on my first full-length novel. The exhilaration of writing “The end” lasted for about a day because now, the real work begins. But, where do I begin?

To find out what my next steps involved, I started where I always do – with research and looking at what the experts had to say.

First, let’s look at a few definitions and terms – Here’s what I discovered:

Revision – means to you take a second look; read it through with fresh and critical perspective.

  • includes reviewing and amending the story.
  • is not a one-time run through.
  • often requires a back and forth between drafts. (I’m told many writers go through multiple drafts and revisions before moving to the next stage.
  • it requires a large-scale overview of the story.
  • You’re looking for the overall flow and structure of the story.
    • looking for holes or loose threads
    • organization of the story
    • character development
    • issues of credibility or believability in the plot, character, or settings.
    • logistics/timeline
    • conclusion

Rewriting – When you rewrite an entire scene, chapter, or add additional information to expand a scene, delete an unnecessary character, or make a character fuller.

Note:  Inline annotations are a good way to make note of areas that may require a rewrite.

Editing and ProofReading –  I tend to think these two things go hand in hand.

  • Editing involves getting the words right and making sure the sentence flows.
  • Proofreading means getting into the nitty-gritty of grammar, spelling, and punctuation; line by line. Things to look for during this process:
    • sentence structure and length
    • those pesky waste words
    • weak verbs
    • Remove unnecessary, vague words, clichés, or jargon
    • Remove awkward or mixed metaphors
    • redundancy
    • rhythm
    • smooth transitions
    • homonyms – words with the pronunciation but different meanings; or, two or more words with the same spelling but different meanings.

Finishing that first draft is exhilarating, but don’t let impatience to see it in print cause you to skimp on the revision process. We all want to see our book on the shelves, but we want a polished book one where our readers get lost in the story and not distracted by poor story organization or sloppy typos.

For More on the Revision Process, check out what this expert has to say.

  1. Are You Making These 3 Common Revision Mistakes? By Janice Hardy. 
  2. General Strategies Before Your Proofread
  3. Revising Drafts

Do you have pointers on revising a draft? Please, share with us. I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

What I learned Writing My First Novel Draft

I’ve completed the first draft of my novel! 78, 131 words. Whew! Although the genre is different from most of my writing these days, it was the first story I began more than three years ago. It wouldn’t go away, so I decided it was time to put it down, once and for all. To stay motivated, I joined a group challenge. I put the period on the last sentence on March the  12th and boy, it felt good! Now, the real work begins.

Here’s what I learned.

  1. Find motivation to get the words down. Whether a critique group, one-on-one writing partner or challenges like the one I participated, or a do-or-die daily writing schedule – sign on. Accountability is a strong motivator to keep going.
  2. Stop your obsessive editing and rewriting! Make notes on the manuscript and keep going. You will have more than enough time to edit later.
  3. Develop a method for keeping up with the details –This is something that screamed with each added chapter. I use Scrivener and love it. It’s an excellent resource for writers and has many tools which help you organize your novel. However, I discovered I need something more. I created excel spreadsheets, (several) to keep up with the details: Character, Settings and Timeline, Threads, and Novel Map (more about those later).
  4. Start planning the next steps – there are quite a few: determining whether you want to use Beta readers, finding the right editor, rewrites, researching your genre, agents, and publishers, writing a synopsis, author bio, cover designs, determining your publishing platform, and outlining a marketing plan. I’m sure I’ve missed a few but more on each of these later.
  5. Enjoy your accomplishment. Many writers never get to the end – you did
  6. Keep writing. Whether it’s on to your next novel, prompts, short fiction, blog post, or article – keep stretching those muscles.

I’ll have more posts in the next few weeks outlining my journey from First Draft to publication. Hopefully, I’ll be able to offer you a few tips, resources, and an inside look at the experience.

If you have any tips or resources you would like to share with the fence jumpers, join the conversation, or better, yet, contact me for the opportunity to be a guest contributor on these topics, for the Cow Pasture Chronicles.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story. I’m all ears and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.