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Reread your writing...

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

Reread your own writing - several times - for a better finished novel.

Some writers worry because they keep finding errors, or things they want to improve, each time they read their own writing.

I say, 'there's nothing wrong with that.'

I would go further. Personally? I find it essential. It's necessary to read and re-read your own writing to make it better - to better your finished novel. I call it 'polishing'.

I would even carry out this process - going over and over your own work - a few times before handing it to your copy-editor. And, if this advance process includes a spell-check, and correcting your own typos and grammatical transgressions, so much the better.

For starters, it may then speed things up a tad for your copy-editor, so they charge you less if they are on an hourly rate rather than 'per 1,000 words'.

For a better read - reread your writing

Again, personally, I have found it leads to a better story, and a better 'read'. You may wish to cut out redundant words or phrases, or even sections. Conversely, you may find inspiration to develop particular paragraphs, sections, or chapters.

You might even end up feeling like 'going for it' and add additional chapters!

Fresh ideas will come if you give it time

Some people worry when they run out of inspiration in the middle of their storytelling. I suppose this is another form of 'writer's block' at its severest form. Don't worry.

If that is the case, letting it 'stew a while' before going back to re-write an otherwise dull episode, could be just what's needed. Here are just a few features you might address:

* Characters may need more description, more development so that readers have 'more to go on' when understanding, and connecting, with them

* Context may benefit from the addition of a few more 'flavours'. Whether its a more thorough description of a town or city (real or imagined) or a countryside setting, building in your own experiences of locations that have inspired you in the past, may help to breath life into the fictitious surroundings around your characters, and plot.

By paying attention to the above two, you resolve the issues related to plot, which is really what you are saying you are worried about if you lack inspiration.

In other articles I have suggested you can 'beat' writer's block... by just writing. Throw caution to the wind, giving yourself the luxury of subsequently rereading it - and rewriting - at a later stage.

As an aside, you probably already know that some writers begin with just a general idea of the direction they will take, without having a pre-drawn 'road map'. (So-called 'pantsers', as in 'writing by the seat of their pants'.) Others prefer to draft an outline for each chapter, from start to finish, before beginning the creative writing process proper.

It's all down to personal preference and, whichever system you follow, the 'rereading your writing' approach is relevant to both. Furthermore, if you allow yourself the freedom, you can even branch out with sub-plot(s) and expansions of the storyline, as you see fit.

As long as it 'works' for the paying audience.

Don't plan - just write

(Caveat: This may not work for all of you.)

I have had a long career in writing, commercial writing, but only ventured into creative novel writing after I'd retired and at 74 years old. It was 2020 and Covid-19 was rife.

Finding Rose and Rose: The Missing Years were my first novels and for both I used the 'pantser' approach. I allowed freedom to intervene, helping me through difficult writing episodes and allowing freestyle writing to bend the story out of its original shape, before using the 'reread your writing' approach to bring it back to a finished state.

Only then would it make sense to, and entertain, my audience.

I stopped short of introducing sub-plots, favoured by more experienced (and more successful!) professional authors, so I still wrote within my limitations, but that was my personal choice.

This brings me to my final point.

Your writing heart should be your beating heart

However you manage your creative writing process, you must always reach out to your 'writing heart' and the part of you that you want to share with your audience. They will be rewarded by wanting to read on; you will be rewarded when they become loyal, long term followers.

John Morey

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