Writers, you’ve heard it all before. Stories aren’t written, they’re rewritten. All first drafts are lousy. You’ve heard this advice, but have you ever heeded it?
I am here to tell you that it’s true. I never really understood this until recently. I wrote four books in a chapter book series. Originally they were written in third person. I thought they were good, but not great. At least I had the basic story down on paper. I let someone else read them. This was someone whose opinion I valued. She also thought they were good, but not great. So I set them aside for a month. I thought about voice and character. I decided to try rewriting them in first person. That was a very good decision because now I could hear the character’s voice in my head. The story flowed out of me much easier. Next, I decided to cut one of the main character’s friends out of the story. The two friends in the story did not have distinct personalities, so one of them had to go. Next, I added two new characters to the stories. These new characters helped flesh out the stories.
Now I had a completely new version of the first book in the series. It was better, but it still wasn’t great. I gave the new story to one of my trusted critique partners. She did a great job of highlighting the strengths and witnesses of the story. So it was back to the drawing board again. I punched up the humor, tightened the dialogue, and fine-tuned the plot.
I was feeling good about the first book in the series. So I rewrote the other three books. Finally, I sought out some copy editing help. She made one final pass over the manuscripts. Then I rewrote them all a final time. I can honestly say that these books are some of my finest work. I am proud of myself for taking the time necessary to make the manuscripts great. When and if they get published, I can honestly say that I will be proud of them!