Posted by: nancycurteman | February 26, 2019

Strategies for Rewriting Your Novel

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You’ve finally written the words, “The End” on the last page of your novel. Great! Now the real work begins—editing, rewriting and polishing. Where to begin? Surprise! The first step is to set your novel aside for a couple of weeks. This provides time for you to gain a more objective view of your almost masterpiece. After this period of detachment the refining begins. Here are some strategies to guide your rewriting:

  • Read your novel aloud. You’ll detect clumsy narrative and dialog. Highlight the rough spots.
  • Use your word processing program’s search function to help you find repetitive words and phrases.
  • Check each adverb to see if it could be eliminated by a stronger verb.
  • Limit your use of words that end in -tion.
  • Delete cliché words, phrases and scenes.
  • Don’t over explain. For example: John slammed the door. Don’t add: He was mad.Slamming the door is enough to show he’s mad.
  • Avoid the passive voice except where appropriate.
  • Provide frequent paragraph breaks. Pages filled with print and little white space are tiring.
  • Check out character names. Don’t give characters similar names. Use only one name for a character.
  • Make sure your characters are distinct in behavior, voice, attitude and values.
  • Ask yourself if your characters’ actions comply with their attitudes and values.
  • Said is almost always the best attribution. People speak words. They don’t sigh, grunt, snort, breathe or wheeze words.
  • Watch out for changes of point of view within a scene or paragraph.
  • Make sure chapter beginnings and endings are strong. Don’t repeat the same style of beginnings and endings in all your chapters.
  • Vary the length of your chapters, scenes and paragraphs.
  • Make sure that each scene contains something your reader cares about.

The ultimate goal in rewriting your novel is to ensure that every word in every sentence either reveals character or advances the plot?

Note: Because rewriting and polishing your novel is so important, I’ve written several blog posts on the topic. See “More Tips” below.

At the moment, I’m in the process of polishing my latest novel set in Ireland . I review my previous posts as a way of making certain I cover every aspect of rewriting.


More tips:

Writing is Rewriting is Revising: 7 Ways to Do It
Polish Your Writing: Cut the Riffraff
Developmental Editing: How to do it
How to Edit Your Mystery Novel
Use Editing Tools With Caution

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