Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Editing, Revising, or Rewriting?

I'm still finding things I want to add or delete from my story and it seems like I don't know when to stop ☹️

Rewrite vs Revise vs Edit

Here is how one person sees the differences:


Rewriting a story is drastic surgery for extreme cases. . .or for most pantsers. Once you’re through the first draft and have taken a good hard look at it (with or without the help of your critique buddies), you may see a lot of work to do.

You may, like me, find that you’ve somehow mashed several stories into one and need to decide which is the tale you meant to tell. You may need to excise characters, subplots, and entire scenes.

Then you need to rearrange what remains and write a bunch of new scenes to fill in the gaps now that you have a better idea of the shape of the story you want to tell.


You might not have as much of a mess after your first draft. You might have a cleaner story than I do at this stage, and can dispense with a from-the-ground-up rewrite and go straight to revision. So far, I’ve always needed at least one full on rewrite stage before getting to this one.

You may need to shift scenes around for sharper conflict and pacing. You may need to tweak scenes to add more depth, layer in more sensory description, and sharpen the POV.


Editing a story is the final polish. It’s the act of catching typos and clarifying confused sentences and tidying things up. If you’ve done a solid job with earlier rewrites and/or revisions, you can expect to make speedy progress through this phase.

There you have it: a writer’s working definitions for rewrite, revise, and edit. Would you change my definitions?

Now I'm not so sure what I am doing at this point 🙂 Rewriting or just adding all the while catching any errors in spelling, finding necessary words that have been omitted and trying to shorten overly long sentences(I'm always on the lookout for those).  I still have yet to get others to critique what I have written now. When I began more than year ago, I emailed my initial production to several people, mailing a printed copy to someone who had trouble reading attachments to email (and who doesn't have a printer). I got some feedback, but some of the people I sent it to never responded.  And fining a writing group near me has been unsuccessful ☹️

If "writing is rewriting is rewriting is rewriting..." as was printed in the syllabus for the creative writing class I took in college long ago, then I definitely have fulfilled that requirement.


  1. From my position of ignorance I suspect the lines between rewriting, revising and editing can be blurred. And aren't necessarily linear.
    Good luck with whatever part of the journey you are on.

  2. It can feel like we go over our books SO many times before any other eyes see it. And we STILL catch mistakes. Amazing how that happens!

  3. Ha. I like the writing is rewriting is rewriting....Soooo true.