11. Rewriting

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The Basic Approach
Here's the typical method for writing and rewriting a piece, whether it's a poem, short story, screenplay, novel, or to-do list:

1. Rough draft: Get it down, and don't get sidetracked with problems that can be fixed later.

2. Self-evaluation: Figure out what you have, and what basically works and what doesn't. Identify glaring problems.

3. First revision: Work on the obvious problems first, especially structural problems, until you can see the story more clearly yourself. This is the easiest stage at which to make drastic changes, if you need to.

4. Self-evaluation (again) and critique by others: Decide, now that you can see the story better, what still isn't working and think of ways to fix it.

5. Revise again.

6. Go back to Step 4: Repeat Steps 4 and 5, as necessary, whether it's once or twice or a hundred times.

7. Final polish: Tighten, clean up style, grammar, and punctuation.

It can be helpful, after you've been through a few revisions, to set the work aside for a few weeks. When you come back to it, you may find that your fresh perspective helps you to read the work more objectively.


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