Rewriting for Plotters

Hey there, amazing plotter!
If you’ve done NaNoWriMo, you’ll know that a plotter is someone who needs to write down every detail of their novel before they start writing.
The worldbuilding, the characters, every scene—it should all be spelled out in advance, giving a clear map to follow once the writing begins.
And if you’ve never participated in NaNo, well, you’ve learned something new!

Are you a plotter? That’s wonderful!!
I’m much more of a plotter now than I used to be.  On the first day of NaNo I used to just open up my laptop and start writing with only the vaguest of ideas of what I wanted to write somewhere up in my head.
My current work in progress, though . . . well, it's a lot more in-depth, because it's fantasy.  :D  I was planning for ages before I even started writing.  (I'm more like what they'd call a plantser, now!)

It’s all well and good to know what kind of writer you are—but how does this affect your rewriting style?

I read somewhere that when you say rewrite . . . You should mean rewrite.
Every word.
(Except for the ones you take out, of course.)
But GO OVER EVERYTHING and tweak it to make it perfect.

All of the hard work that the word rewrite implies . . . ? Yup. Do it.

Because you can.

And your readers will love you for it.

But I think that rewriting will look different for plotters or pantsers, because they’re both vastly different approaches to writing.  There are some similarities, sure, but that's just because rewriting is rewriting.  :D

This one is for you, plotters!


TAKE A BREAK

You were obsessing over every little detail in this novel before you even wrote it. That’s exhausting—exciting, but exhausting. Your brain needs some time to recoup. Your heart probably does, too, because all the feels.
Once you write those words “the end” . . . put the manuscript away. It needs a nap, and so do you.

Try to leave it be for a few weeks. (I do believe that Stephen King says that he will set his novels aside until he nearly forgets about them . . . Try to do the same!) I know you’ll be thinking about it constantly, but resist the urge to start rewriting right this second. When you do come back to it, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle the task ahead.

So what do you do when you pull out that novel for the first time?

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READ EVERY WORD

If you took that break, it will be much easier to read it as a reader—and that’s what you want the first time around. You can still make notes to yourself, but try to keep from being overly critical. Get the overall feel that the novel ended up with, the emotions that it brings, and jot those down.
Be so chill about it this time around that you make those notes in their own little notebook or something; don't worry about marking up the manuscript itself yet.  

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GO OVER YOUR OUTLINE AND MAKE CHANGES TO IT

Chances are, even the most meticulous plotter will be surprised by some plot twists here and there. (BECAUSE WRITING IS COOL LIKE THAT!)  So go over that outline you made at the beginning and make changes to it so that it matches the first draft.
Changes to that plot are good, so don’t scrap them just because they weren’t planned in advance--and don't chuck that first outline out the window, either.  You never know when you might want to work things from it into the book later on.
This update can be as detailed as you’d like . . . but remember that you have a lot of work ahead, and more changes to make, so don’t tire yourself here. 

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READ IT AGAIN . . . CRITICALLY

Print out your manuscript with super wide margins and line spaces—you’re gonna need ‘em. Make a crazy amount of notes about the big picture things; worldbuilding, plot, pacing, character development. . . . Anything you’re not happy with, make a note of it.
Why do you feel that way?
How could you improve on it?

If you’re not sure of all of the questions you should be asking yourself, check out my betareading guide. :)

You probably made some notes like this already during the first read. That’s great!  Expand on them here.  :)

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USE THOSE NOTES

Make a game plan. You’re a plotter, it’s what you do!

Update your outline AGAIN—this time, have an Outline 2.0.
What do you want to change?
How do you want to change it?

  • Do more research into things you thought were lacking.  This can be anything from writing realistic fight scenes and injuries, to weaponry, to what kind of clothes people might wear in a similar place and time.  (You could also read one of the books that fits the genre and count it as research, making notes of elements you like and pieces you find inpsiring!)
  • Discover the history of your world more fully.
  • Draw up a map if you haven't yet, just so you can keep track of directions and the the layout of everything.
  • Meet those side characters that you met along the way and more fully develop their characters.


Whatever it is you feel like you need to do to prep for this rewrite, do it! Even if it seems crazy and overkill; every writer has their own process, strengths, and weaknesses.  

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REWRITE

Chapter by chapter, scene by scene, paragraph by paragraph . . . you get the idea.
It might help you to outline the scenes ahead of time, even; a process you're likely familiar with!  :D
What do you want the reader to feel when they read that scene?
What does it accomplish for the story--building characters or furthering the plot?  

Set a realistic goal for when you want to be done with your rewrites, then get to it—and reward yourself for it along the way! This is hard work!  (Even if you aren't actively rewriting it, I know you'll be thinking about it!)


And after all of this, you’ve finished draft number two.  Yay!  Throw a little party for yourself, then lather, rinse, and repeat as necessary!

The very best of luck to you, anyone who is going to rewrite their first draft!  I know you can do it!