The Journal: When Rewriting Is (Maybe) Appropriate

In today’s Journal

* Getting close
* Topic: When Rewriting Is (Maybe) Appropriate
* Today
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

At almost 52,000 words, I finally have a sense that I’m nearing the final scenes of my WIP. The end isn’t in sight (thankfully) but probably within another 10,000 words or so. So it looks like I’ll finish it in February. Woohoo!

Topic: When Rewriting Is (Maybe) Appropriate

Yeah, I actually said the R word. But I didn’t really mean it. What I actually meant was Cycling After the Fact (after a book is published).

I actively teach (and practice) not to rewrite. Coming as it does from the critical mind (actively looking for things that are “wrong”), rewriting is a Bad Idea.

When you rewrite a work you’ve just finished (before publication), most of the “improvements” you make will move the story farther from your own unique, original voice, which resides in your creative subconscious.

I also advocate not looking backward, not rewriting works that are already published and out there. I adise letting them stand as markers of your skill level at the time when you wrote them.

And up until now, I’ve followed my own advice.

But what later became Book 4 of my Wes Crowley series was also the very first novel I wrote. What later became Books 5 and 6 of that series, were also early novels (the second and third novels I ever wrote).

I learned a lot about writing (new-to-me techniques, etc.) before I wrote my fifth novel, which would later become Book 1 in that same series. Then I wrote Books 2 and 3. Then I skipped ahead and wrote Books 7 through 11.

It’s always bugged me a bit that I wrote Books 4–6 at a lower skill level than Books 1–3. For just one thing, Books 4–6 have much longer paragraphs (I wrote them before I learned anything about Pacing). For another, I hadn’t yet learned to include all five physical senses in every major scene.

In short, I didn’t know to ground the reader and keep him grounded, and I didn’t know how to pull him through the book with pacing techniques. I think I finally learned all of that by the time I committed Book 7 to the screen.

So in my spare time (grin) I’m going to start reading through Books 1–6 and letting myself touch them as I go.

This won’t really be rewriting, which by definition is a function of the critical mind. I won’t be consciously “looking for” things that are “wrong.”

I’ll be cycling, a function of the creative subconscious. It will be fun and it will be easy. And when I’m finished, the entire series will read as smoothly as the last several books in the series do now.

What is cycling? As I said above, it’s a function of the creative subconscious. I’ll read the books for pleasure and, as I also said above, I’ll allow myself to touch them as I go, adding sensory detail to more deeply ground the reader. That and hitting the return (Enter) key now and then to enhance pacing.

I would never do this with a stand-alone novel, or with the novel series I wrote later. For one thing, it would bore me to read a story I already know by heart and for which I already know the ending.

But I’m far enough removed now (5+ years later) to read Books 1–6 of the Wes Crowley series and still be surprised at what happens in the story. At least that’s my hope.

I probably won’t start this until after I’ve finished with the free mentoring sessions in mid to late March. I’ll probably let the cycling sessions take the time slot currently reserved for the mentoring sessions.

By the way, I got the idea to do this from the Kill Zone blog post referenced in today’s “Of Interest.”

Salesmen have a mantra (“the ABCs of selling”): Always Be Closing.

Writers should have a mantra too: Always Be Learning.

I automatically tossed out most of what the author wrote in that post, but that one idea grabbed me as an attractive possibility and here we are. We’ll see how well it works.

Today I reversed my morning sequence a bit. I wrote the stuff above first and poked around for items for “Of Interest” first, and now I’m putting on my mentoring hat.

I’ll write a little after that if there’s time, then take a long break after that to see my wife and her sister off on their annual adventure.

At 5 I turned to the WIP. Wrote about 1000 words, then headed up to the house at 6.

The ladies left at 7:30. I straightened up a few things, then went back to the Hovel and the novel. By 8:30 I had another 1100 words. Back to the house now to check on the babies.

An okay writing day. I’m a little tired today so I quit early.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Writing Tips: Using Authentic Dialogue From Languages Other Than English” at

See “Regrets?” at

See “When You Write a Perfect Story” at

See “How To Rewrite Your Whole Darn Book” at Despite what I teach (and practice) this is a good post for those with whom it will resonate, so I decided to pass it along.

See “Tennessee Becomes Next State Seeking Public Library Oversight, Censorship” at In my humble opinion, oversight boards and librarians making decisions regarding age-appropriate literature for children is not censorship.

For fun, see “Worried a Robot Apocalypse Is Imminent?” at

The Numbers

Fiction words today…………………… 3057
Nonfiction words today…………… 920 (Journal)

Writing of The Three-Year Turn (novel)

Day 11… 3442 words. Total words to date…… 36545
Day 12… 2278 words. Total words to date…… 38823
Day 13… 1677 words. Total words to date…… 40500
Day 14… 3030 words. Total words to date…… 43530
Day 15… 5247 words. Total words to date…… 48777
Day 16… 3057 words. Total words to date…… 51834

Total fiction words for the month……… 64689
Total fiction words for the year………… 130233
Total nonfiction words for the month… 20900
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 52160
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 178416

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 5
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 47
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 201
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31

4 thoughts on “The Journal: When Rewriting Is (Maybe) Appropriate”

  1. Whew! I had to stop & get a drink before reading your post tonight. Glad to see you haven’t changed. It will be interesting to see how much (if any) the older (written earlier) novels change.
    And as usual, great of-interest items.

    • Yes, I’ve been known to drive women to drink. It’s a gift. 🙂 The novels won’t change much. A little deeper and better paced is all.

  2. You’ll probably want to kick my butt after this, but I really think you’ve let your critical self get hold of that series. 😀 You wrote the best books you were capable of writing at the time, right? If you go back now, you are definitely looking to fix things you think are wrong with those books. Sorry! 😀

    It’s a slippery slope and you’re at the precipice. Choose your next step wisely!

    That said, we all have to find our path and maybe this is yours. 😀 I’m not criticizing your choice, but I do think you’re looking back instead of forward. 😉

    • Thanks, Lynn. Nope, no critical mind involved at all, but thanks for your concern.

      For one thing, I don’t think anything’s “wrong” with the books. Great stories in a great sequence. I only want to smooth the reading experience a little. If I’d written the first book in the series first, then the second and so on (as I did with all my other series), I wouldn’t even consider doing this. But the way it is, if a reader reads the Wes Crowley series in chronological order, he might stumble when he gets to Book 4 (the first novel I ever wrote). And if my critical mind rears its ugly little head during the process, I’ll recognize it and shut it down immediately. Unlike many writers, I’ve gotten very good at recognizing and differentiating critical mind and creative voice. (grin)

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