Friday, November 1, 2013

NOVEMBER 2013 - Rewriting or Revising, are they the same?

Rewrite means to write from the beginning and make significant changes, or to redo the same theme or idea or story but differently.

Revising means to edit, reorganize, update, improve, refresh, retool, amend, paraphrase, rephrase, or reword.

So, technically rewriting is not revising. Trouble is, writers often use the terms synonymously. Yet, we writer know we must rewrite and revise, cut and paste, trim, and make changes so that the person reading our words can understand the message, or thes tory, we intended for them.

But are we good self-editors? I think that all depends on the individual's mindset, how they learned to write, and, more importantly, if they understand that writing to communicate and writing fiction take a different skill set.

In school, we learned to write and use the English language. We learned and used punctuation and grammar rules. We increased our vocabularies. We learned to report and be factual, unemotional. That's fine for nonfiction, journalism, and the corporate world but not good when it comes to fiction. By my count, there are 144 aspects to writing fiction, and they cannot be learned overnight or in one fell swoop.

You've probably heard me say it a dozen times that these days anyone with a computer thinks they can write The Great American Novel or the next New York Times Best Seller. The reality is that millions do write a novel. However, instead of learning fiction devices and techniques to present a story for a reader, they self-publish and then wonder why their stories don't sell. Or they offer their stories for free. I came across a statistic last month: there are estimated to be 15 Million new titles published/self-published this year online. For readers, finding a good book among them is equal to searching for a needle in a haystack.

So, how does an author rise above the masses? They do it with ruthless editing. And, again, we are not talking punctuation and grammar. We're talking about various aspects of great storytelling. To the serious writer, editing means switching from creative mode to self-editing those first rounds of revision and rewriting passages for clarity and vividness. And now, as you might have guessed, I'm going to plug the "Revision Boot Camp" online workshop that will showcase the self-editing process and how to handle it step-by-step instead of en masse. That workshop will be held January 13-31, 2014. Oh, and there is an early-bird discount available until January 1. Registration fees and details are at

This blog is updated the first of each month.
Comments and questions are always welcome.

December 2013 - Why write as well as you can?

@ 2013 Catherine E. McLean
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