Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#1
Greetings, friends and enemies. 

I think a lot of writers on here, myself included, aren't pleased with their first attempt at writing. I started my story about three months ago. At the time, I was just happy to finally having the confidence to write and put it out there for people to see. Fast forward three months and now I know I'm capable of much more than what I've put on this website. It is a thorn in my side to know that I've got something on here that is less than my best effort. So, I'm planning on a rewrite. The only issue is that I am now almost 100k words deep into this project and it is damn intimidating. 

Long story short, what tips do you guys have for tackling a Rewrite or a Revision?

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#2
I think perhaps it would be best if you go ahead and finish it. You are 100k in. Way passed what I personally label as the point of no return.

Revisions and edits are most easily done when you have a  finished with the story.  Stopping a project to revise it,  you increase the chance that you won't finish story. Plus it's a terrible habit to form. You'll start looking to make a rough draft perfect which isn't possible and then your just constantly spinning your wheels.  Good writing takes a lot of practice and you learn the most from finishing what you start.

And to be perfectly honest, I think the best way to combat this is prevention.  And by that I mean not post anything as a work-in-progress. I know this isn't a popular idea on a serial site, however, it just creates less abandoned stories.  Not everyone can  write and post as you go I can't. I don't bother trying anymore. Everything I plan to post is already revised to the point that I'm relatively happy with what ever I work with. If that doesn't sound ideal you need to start with a  good outline to follow.

When you are done with a story. Let it sit for a little bit and the re-read it. Then you go about tackling editing. I suggest doing it in waves.  Story and characterizations is the first things I work on and repeat until I'm happy. Then clarification and decrease my wordiness. And grammar is the very last thing I work on.

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#3
Yea I can't imagine trying to do a rewrite at 100k words, at that point just scrap and start something else if it's unbearable for you. But I would recommend just pressing forward - I think feeling like your early work is sub-par compared to your current output is a pretty universal one. If you actually did try to rewrite 100k words by the time you got through it your writing style will have evolved further and you'd just end up feeling the same way again I imagine. It's just an affliction of the web serial format.

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#4
At this point, it's not wise to re-write the whole story. Just as the others said, the best thing you can do is to complete your story and then revise it later. Unless your story is really bad (which doesn't seem to be the case) or unless you want to take a whole other direction with your story, it's useless to re-write it. Re-written stories are often dropped, it is a fact.

So far, the only time I thought it was a good idea for the author to re-write the story was with Dragon Princess Reborn. It was a risky bet, but it worked. However, while the main idea is basically the same, the story is entirely different. To be honest, if not for the character's name, you almost wouldn't make the link between the Original version and the new one. So yeah, you can do that. Keeping the main idea, but writing a completely different story, taking in account your past mistakes. It will also preventing you to get bored while writing the new version and drop it, since it is a fact, you will quickly lose motivation if you were to write the exact same story. Do try to complete your first work before though.

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#5
7/3/2017 4:38:40 PMLadyAnder Wrote: [ -> ]I think perhaps it would be best if you go ahead and finish it. You are 100k in. Way passed what I personally label as the point of no return.

Revisions and edits are most easily done when you have a  finished with the story.  Stopping a project to revise it,  you increase the chance that you won't finish story. Plus it's a terrible habit to form. You'll start looking to make a rough draft perfect which isn't possible and then your just constantly spinning your wheels.  Good writing takes a lot of practice and you learn the most from finishing what you start.

And to be perfectly honest, I think the best way to combat this is prevention.  And by that I mean not post anything as a work-in-progress. I know this isn't a popular idea on a serial site, however, it just creates less abandoned stories.  Not everyone can  write and post as you go I can't. I don't bother trying anymore. Everything I plan to post is already revised to the point that I'm relatively happy with what ever I work with. If that doesn't sound ideal you need to start with a  good outline to follow.

When you are done with a story. Let it sit for a little bit and the re-read it. Then you go about tackling editing. I suggest doing it in waves.  Story and characterizations is the first things I work on and repeat until I'm happy. Then clarification and decrease my wordiness. And grammar is the very last thing I work on.

Thank you for the input! Let me just clarify a few things first.
I'm stopping for the rewrite at the place where I would consider the first 'book' done. I've got the plot and direction for the next 'book' in mind as well as a large continuation, but I feel like I've written myself a shallow foundation. I don't want to rewrite everything so much as to add more things in. I need to revise my magic system a little, amp up my RPG aspects, develop missed character building opportunities, add in some POV's, and do a LOT of foreshadowing and plot development. One of my big issues is that I thought up plot twist as I was writing and missed out on building up to it, ya know?

7/3/2017 8:45:00 PMsinkingship Wrote: [ -> ]Yea I can't imagine trying to do a rewrite at 100k words, at that point just scrap and start something else if it's unbearable for you. But I would recommend just pressing forward - I think feeling like your early work is sub-par compared to your current output is a pretty universal one. If you actually did try to rewrite 100k words by the time you got through it your writing style will have evolved further and you'd just end up feeling the same way again I imagine. It's just an affliction of the web serial format.

I'd rather put in the time and work than scrap it. I've gotten attached to my characters in a way I never felt when I was a reader, ya know? A part of me NEEDS to have their stories played out.

Speaking of web-serial format afflictions, it is practical to rewrite your early chapters to be stronger. As a reader I drop series early on if the writing isn't up to what I consider par. Out of the couple thousand views I have on my early chapters, I've only managed to retain about 250 followers. No matter how much my writing develops later on, it is going to be hard to get a larger following without revisions.

7/3/2017 9:53:42 PMNerodith Wrote: [ -> ]At this point, it's not wise to re-write the whole story. Just as the others said, the best thing you can do is to complete your story and then revise it later. Unless your story is really bad (which doesn't seem to be the case) or unless you want to take a whole other direction with your story, it's useless to re-write it. Re-written stories are often dropped, it is a fact.

So far, the only time I thought it was a good idea for the author to re-write the story was with Dragon Princess Reborn. It was a risky bet, but it worked. However, while the main idea is basically the same, the story is entirely different. To be honest, if not for the character's name, you almost wouldn't make the link between the Original version and the new one. So yeah, you can do that. Keeping the main idea, but writing a completely different story, taking in account your past mistakes. It will also preventing you to get bored while writing the new version and drop it, since it is a fact, you will quickly lose motivation if you were to write the exact same story. Do try to complete your first work before though.

Thanks for saying my story doesn't seem to be bad! I've had a couple negative reviews, but a point of pride for me is that no matter how much they disliked my story they agreed it was well written.

I hear what you're saying, but I think we're on different wavelengths. I'm not planning on re-writing from scratch, but more like a mass add on and edit. I suppose a decent metaphor would be rebuilding the engine and interior of a car while keeping the body the same. To make things run well later on, I need to fix some things now.

Like I mentioned earlier, I am stopping at a point where the first 'book' is considered complete.

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#6
I wouldn't recommend a rewrite at this stage either BUT I would strongly, strongly recommend going back to earlier chapters and doing some light editing. It'll make your life easier in the long run, might help deal with some insecurities you may be facing, and it'll get you ready for the revision/rewrite.
Just set a goal to edit one or two chapters per new chapter you release, and get the first dozen or so edited. I recommend the first ones because those are usually not as good as the ones you write later, since you've almost definitely improved as a writer by then.

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#7
My own past experience with this is:

Finish it first, then post it.

I put my first story up and spent most of my time each week re-writing and editing chapters until I burned out so hard I couldn't even look at text for a while XD

Though it didn't help that I lost around 50k words of my latest stuff and ended up changing it. Having a non-existent time-line in your brain can be painful.

That's another thing, if you're constantly re-writing old chapters, you can break things you've written later on that tied into something you changed etc.

I remember I re-wrote half a chapter and added something in and then the in next chapter I realized that what I'd added earlier was was written there and it made about 50x more sense.

But if you're someone who thrives under pressure, disregard. Releasing as you write may suit you more.

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#8
My tip for rewriting is, don't do it. You will never be happy with your earlier work and chances are, you probably won't even be happy with the revision. You'll just end up seeing all the flaws and lose interest in writing.

Just don't let it get to your head if you write a popular fiction. The best rated list is not filled with good authors. It's filled with okay authors who found a gimmick people enjoyed reading about. There's the odd gem that truly deserves attention.

Take the Amazon author of Portals of Infinity. He found a cool gimmick and got an audience. However, his audience shrunk with every sequel. He tried writing several other series and never found a new audience.

Most people just don't understand story writing. An interesting concept alone can make up for myriad flaws.

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#9
I think there may be a misunderstanding here somewhere. I don't want to rewrite for the sake of my audience, I want to rewrite for my sake. My original goal of writing a story and throwing it on this site, was to see if I could. Well, I can and I didn't do a terrible job. Now I want to improve.
Over the course of time, I've become attached to my characters and it makes me think that I didn't do them justice when I was building the foundations of my story. In fact, I want to solidify my foundations so I can build something bigger and better. I think that throwing in book changing concepts out of nowhere is weak writing and I don't wanna be 'that guy.'
Soooo, yeah. Now that I know I can do it, I want to do it better. It seems like most of you are taking a very web-novel approach to the concept of rewriting, but don't normal authors edit and revise over and over again?

Tl;dr : Saying 'the best way to rewrite is to not rewrite' is a dumb answer and you should all be ashamed of yourselves. Tsk tsk.

RE: Tips for Rewrites and Revisions

#10
Adding to DarkD's first paragraph:

I agree you should continue to finish what you already have, only THEN should you re-write it.
Why?
Well, because right now your mind is still focused in the 'what comes next'. If you start over you lose that! Finish being creative first!
If you finish first, you have this solid full outline for your re-write!

If you finish, you've finished something, AND you will be driven to finish again!

If you think you are better now, you'll probably say the same thing again later anyways.
(Don't be like me and get stuck re-writing again and again eight times over when you only reach half way.)