To Rewrite or Not to Rewrite

Recently I’ve been reading the Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing blog series by author Dean Wesley Smith. Like his wife’s articles on the business of writing, there is a lot of good information, both on the business and art of writing, and I highly recommend them to anyone who is serious about starting a long-term writing career.

In particular, Smith’s post on rewriting (which you should read, by the way, because it’s quite excellent) got me thinking about how I usually approach writing. Normally, I do what is apparently called “redrafting”; that is, I write three different drafts of the same story (at least for novels, anyway). After that, I’ll go through and edit the last draft three times before I decide to show the story to anyone else.

This method usually works for me and I generally enjoy it, but reading Smith’s article on rewriting, I wonder if I should try being a “three draft” writer sometimes. His process is as follows:

First draft I do as quickly as I can, staying solidly as much as possible in my creative side, adding in things I think about as I go along, until I get to the end of the draft. Again, I try to write as fast as the project will allow since I have discovered a long time ago that if I just keep typing, the less chance I have to get in my own way and screw things up.

Second draft I spellcheck and then give to my trusted first reader.

Third draft I touch up all the things my first reader has found and then I mail the novel or story.

If my first reader hates the story, I toss the draft away and redraft completely.

It sounds like a recipe for mediocre work, don’t it? But apparently it works for him quite well (he’s traditionally published over 100 novels and hundreds and hundreds of short stories). And not just him, either, but he says that other professional writers use a similar approach and have similar success in publishing and making money off their work.

Of course, I’m not Dean Wesley Smith. As he says, every writer does it differently, so what works for him may not work for me and vice versa.

Still, I would like to try this method out sometime, just to see if it will work for me. It sounds like a lot of fun, if a bit scary. Maybe I’ll use it for my next novel, just to see see how it works for me. I might be pleasantly surprised.

What are your thoughts on rewriting? Share your thoughts in the comments!

-Tim

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