“Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.”
(Ernest Hemingway, “The Art of Fiction,” The Paris Review Interview, 1956) 1
The act of revision is an absolutely necessary part of writing, no matter what kind. Essays, stories, novels, books all require that the author not be satisfied with initial drafts. “Re-vision” means to re-see, or to look at the work from another perspective. This idea is something I try to teach my students in College First Year Writing classes, and it is crucial that I apply the ideas myself to my own work.
When I look back over my writing of the last few years, I can see that I employ this practice. I wrote at five-seven drafts of the chapters of my dissertation for my Ph.D. in English, and I continue to revise with the novels I am currently writing. I wrote 13 drafts of my horror novel Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1; I did six drafts of my second novel, a young adult speculative work. The second book in my supernatural series is almost ready to be released at 6 drafts–Gallow Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2. I have learned to be more focused in my revisions, so I have been able to cut down the numbers a bit.
Of course, the writer can revise in several ways. Do we do a complete rewriting of the draft trying to deal with everything, or do we focus on a particular aspect of the novel, for example structure or characterization? I do not pretend to know what each writer should do. I suspect that it varies according to project and writer.
What I am certain of is that we must continue to work on the writing, trying to see it in new ways and looking for various problems to fix.
The most important point is for writers to keep writing and revising!
1. From http://grammar.about.com/od/advicefromthepros/a/rewritequotes.htm 3/28/2015.