Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

There is no absence of advice to writers out there on the interwebs.  If you're on twitter, then you probably have it coming through your twitter stream every day to some degree.  A lot of the advice is pretty much the same, and no matter what you the writer has to actually do the writing but Ive been struggling with a complete re-write (whether it's warranted or not) and I was wondering what some of the other writers thought about re-writes.

Some people swear by it, they keep re-writing and re-writing almost as if they are sculpting with their word processor - chiseling away at the project, taking away all of the unnecessary verbiage to only leave the best story possible when all is said and done.

Other people will tell you not to re-write and be careful not to re-write because you could ruin a project.  These people often say that they won't re-write unless their editor/publisher demands it.

What about you?  In what circumstances would you perform a complete single (by single I mean something that's outside your normal process of writing re-write?

Thank you for your time on this matter.

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Well I don't know exactly as it's rare I actually get writing done. I suspect however doing a re-write would be like pulling teeth. I HATE editing and making structural changes irk the hell out of me. It's not my claim to perfection, it's that my ID furiously rejects the notion that anything should be written more than once. That's why I get stuck on details, cause I don't know and I detest the notion of coming back and fixing it.
When I write, I typically outline the story from beginning to end before I start anything that looks like a narrative.

The outline is rough at first, plotting out the themes and the conflict. This ensures that I have an ending and that I have a good story to tell. If it's just a bunch of characters, or a world building exercise, then it's not a good story to me.

This is when I would either trash or rewrite what I have, because all I've lost at this point is brain time. A lot of writers will just sit and type and hope their story magically splooges onto the screen. For me, that's shooting without a target.

Writers are killers. Trained writers are snipers. Lousy writers are gang bangers throwing lead in the hopes they hit something. Until you know what you're aiming for, don't pull the trigger.

At this point, I flesh out the structure a little more. Each bullet point represents a scene, and the story's structure is told from beginning to end in chronological order. By this time, I can tell if the story is weak, cliched, or needs to be trimmed. I'm not in this to exercise my fingers or work on my monitor tan, so every scene has to mean something and it must have a place in the overall story.

Once I have all of those scenes in place, I then work on how I want to tell the story. First person, post-modern is my typical style. The scenes are now taken out of chronological order in order to build tension and conflict.

Typically, I have three conflicts in my stories (action, social conflicts, tension); two will have consequences and will tie up or resolve the story somehow, so I try to space them out as dramatically as possible. Thanks to the timing shuffle, one will happen in the past, one will happen to set the character on his path, and one will happen as a resolution.

From there, it's pretty easy to write, because all you need to do is describe the scenes and fill in the dialog.

A few more passes once you're done are absolutely necessary to trim the fat. Remember, if your story isn't moving towards the next conflict, then you're boring the reader. Don't be afraid to take out your word machete and start hacking.

After you're done cutting through the word jungle you've grown, check it again for grammar. Sometimes, you'll get overzealous with your chopping and your sentences won't line up anymore. Check the tense, smooth over your pits, and take it out for a test drive with your friends.

It's the only way you'll know it can run without you pushing it.
If you're interested in being a writer, I recommend checking out Chuck Wendig's blog.


He updates it daily, and the advice is spot on. If you can get past Chuck's vulgarity, I guarantee you'll be stopping by his site for great tips.
I am going to go in a slightly different direction and say, don't ever outline the story. To outline the story is to place limitations on your broccoli and if you limit your broccoli, it won't give you anything. Broccoli can be very tempermental. >_>

There is nothing wrong with knowing exactly what you want in a given scene, but DO NOT limit your characters. They are like your children. The more you try to force an image, or identity unto them, the more they will rebel and stick their tongues out at you. "HAVE SOME WRITER'S BLOCK, BUTTHEAD!"

The best stories are character driven and letting the characters drive will lead you to the best plot possible.

Verdict: YAY! Rewrites! :D
An outline isn't a limiter, it's the story you want to tell, the goal you want to reach. If your characters are running around wild without any direction at all, then where's the story?

I find that without a clear goal, writer's block becomes a much deadlier enemy. Instead of the old "how do I describe this scene," or "what's the best way to get from A to B," you're stuck with "where do I go from here?" instead. It's like being lost on the road. If you have a map, you can eventually get back to where you were going after a few detours. If you say, "screw the map, let's go where we feel like," you'll end up falling off the edge of the world or being eaten by the Blair Witch.
The thing about Outlining is this: You have to do it.

As a writer you will do it. Every writer does.

Whether you do the outline before sitting down to write the story out and do the outline in one complete step - not moving forward until the outline is complete, or whether you jump right into the story with only the vaguest notion of where you'll end up: sooner or later you'll have to think about where you've been, where you're going and how to join the two together which is exactly what an outline is.

Often times these two different styles are labeled "Planners" & "Pansters" as those who don't outline jump in by the seat of their pants.

Planners outline, but find that they have to deviate from it, and sometimes quite a bit if they go with their gut reaction and let the story take them away.

Pansters go with their gut but sooner or later they have to double check and make sure that the story is making sense and is cohesive.

Ultimately a good story is a good story and the elements necessary to make it good will find their way in their one way or another.

Most people think they hate rewriting because they don't know how to do it. The plain truth of it is that inspiration is easy. Writing for an audience is hard. If it wasn't, everyone would do it.


I'd rewrite any time my finished product didn't feel right to what's in my head. I'm doing it right now. If the story's worth keeping, it's worth rewriting. The best advice I can give for a rewrite is first, figure out what's wrong in the big picture and fix that. That way, you're not varnishing your mistakes.


I'd rewrite if an editor or agent asked for it in most cases. Putting aside the writer's ego, reputable editors and agents know how to make your work appeal to the commercial paradigm, and it's in the writer's best interests to listen to them. Only if the true heart of your work is in jeopardy do you draw that line in the sand. Your use of commas, a weak plot or character, or a catchy turn of phrase should not be your hill to die on.


The thing is, if you're serious about writing, and writing well, revision can be a massively educational experience (also humbling, because 99.9% of us--you and me included--ain't all that). You learn more about what makes good writing (and what makes *you* a good writer, along with what you need to work on), and you get better at it, so that next time, your rewrites won't have to be so extensive.


Also, if rewriting a particular story meant I could eat/live comfortably, versus 'impoverished artistic suffering'...you'd better believe I'd get out the red pen. ;)

A close friend who's an excellent writer recommends:

1 Start with an outline

2 Always, always rewrite. Never go with the first draft and plan on multiple rewrites.

3 KISS, don't say more than you must.

4 Find a good editor who is knowledgeable and will give you the hard truth. Brace yourself and accept their tough love when they give you feedback.

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