Rupert Widdicombe is a journalist whose articles have appeared in The London Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Economist, Marie Claire, and many other publications. He has particular interest in ecology and Central American politics and society. He also writes business and training materials and is in the process of writing a novel.
Six Good Ideas about…Take Two (Rewriting)
1. If possible, let some time go by between finishing the first draft and starting on the rewrite. If there’s not enough time to do this, at least read something different, go to a movie, go for a walk or run, or do something else to clear your mind.
2. Don’t critique your drafts in the same place where you wrote them (even moving into the next room can make a difference).
3. The first time you re-read the material, don’t have a pen in your hand so you can’t make notes until you’ve read the whole thing. At this stage, you’re looking for major problems with the structure or characterization.
4. The next time through, make notes in the margins about what changes are required.
5. If you need to do major surgery, do it first, and only then go through for smaller changes like punctuation, etc.
6. If you have someone else critique what you’ve written, note their comments but don’t get into a debate in which you defend your writing. A useful phrase to use in this situation is, “You may be right.” You can decide later which of their comments to take on board. The comments to pay attention to are the ones that help you achieve your goal for the material.
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