Rewriting comes in many guises and brings with it both pain and pleasure. For me it all depends on when I am rewriting. If I have to rewrite on the editor's request then it is a pain, because, by then, I am already well into the next novel. If it is during the revision stages of a novel (before it has been sent to my editor) then it is often a pleasure with one BIG exception, and that is when I am struggling with the ending. Here I want to make the novel as exciting as possible and, it being a crime novel, I want to surprise the reader, and myself, which sounds a bit loony but although I often think I know who the villain/killer is, it sometimes turns out to be someone completely different. And that means a rewrite. Once I've cracked the ending though there is a certain pleasure in going back over the novel taking it apart, questioning each word and passage, exploring, and generally testing my prose until I feel it is the best I can possibly do, and even then I always feel I could do better!

I ask myself as I am rewriting if there are sections that I want to skip over, are there enough peaks in the novel and places where the reader can pause to catch his or her breath? Does each chapter finish on a hook compelling the reader to read a little bit more... and more...?

Is there a section that I am fond of but really adds nothing to the pace and body of the novel? If so then it has to go, no matter how painful. I simply dump it into another word file on the computer. Have all the loose ends been neatly tied up? Is the story told in the right voice?

I first wrote In Cold Daylight (one of my crime thriller novels) in the third person singular through the eyes of my reluctant hero, Adam Greene, but when I reached the end of the first draft I knew it wasn't right. So I decided to change it to the first person, but still through Adam's eyes, and that made it a much more gripping novel. It's fun sometimes to play around with different voices, chapters or sections and this is where writing on a computer with the cut and paste facility is such a boom.
There are many courses that aim to teach you how to write, or how to write better, and they have their advantages, but nothing beats actually doing it and then experimenting: taking it apart, exploring different styles of writing, trying out different words and different characters. This gives you an understanding of how you use words on the page. It is painful, but if you enjoy writing (and let's face it why else would you be doing it unless you enjoy it) then it is also a pleasure.

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Comment by B.R.Stateham on January 12, 2010 at 2:27am
It should be both. Pain and pleasure. In the beginning a revision/rewrite is kinda of exciting. Something in the writing cropped up unexpectedly. But after the last rewrite--after the book has been put to bed--to go back and rewite more is a bummer. At some point in time, you just get tired of reading the same damn thing over, and over, and over.
Comment by I. J. Parker on January 12, 2010 at 1:25am
Well, revisions (incl. rewrites) are necessary. Before submission, they are part of the creative process. When the book comes back with editor's suggestions, the experience is often embarrassing. For me, this happens usually two or more years after I finished the book (I've always had books waiting so far) and I'm unpleasantly surprised by some of my writing. Of course, I've also had editorial suggestions that were just plain wrong. And that is a major aggravation because you don't want to seem uncooperative. Much depends on the editor.

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