What is the difference between rewriting, revising, and editing a story? Here’s my take on it.
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.
- What’s the difference between rewriting, revising, and editing? click to tweet
- Does your story need rewrites or revisions? Or is an edit enough? click to tweet
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?