Lesson 4


Lesson 4: Writing is Re-writing

“Little Plus Often Makes Much”
Polish, polish, and more polish to your words
will make your story shine.

The next important lesson to learn in creative writing is an important point that many students fail to understand. They often think the first draft of their work is the final draft despite the need for revision, to fill in the blank spaces from A to Z, to check for verb tenses and misplaced modifiers. Keep in mind this huge point: WRITING IS RE-WRITING.

Don’t think your original version will be the final one. One fun aspect of writing is to embellish or expand upon your ideas. At first you may briefly explain a point, but you need to expand upon the idea more fully. For example, you may introduce a new character by name, but you may need to explain what the character looks like, sounds like, and how it behaves. So feel free to re-write and expand upon your ideas. Like a painter, you need to paint a picture with words in the reader’s mind.

One interesting story about re-writing concerns the great American writer, Ernest Hemingway, who wrote many famous books, including “The Old Man and the Sea.” Reportedly, he re-wrote this story 37 times before it was published. And he wrote it on an old manual typewriter, not a modern computer word processor. So don’t think you will write only one version of your own story. If good writing was that easy, we all would be famous.

Another famous modern writer is J. K. Rowling.  She wrote Harry Potter, a book many of you have read and a movie you have seen. Supposedly she re-wrote her story 93 times. She took time and effort to embellish her story, filling in the gaps, developing the plot and characters, and refining her word structure.

This reminds me of an old saying my granddaddy often told me: “Little plus often makes much.” Imagine if you saved a penny every day, in time you would have a lot of money. The same with writing–you need to take a little time daily to write rather than thinking you can write an entire story at one time. This type of discipline is important for you to master if you want to create good stories. Take time every day to write or add to your story.

You will polish your words over and over again like a wood craftsman who sands and varnishes his wood many times to make it shine. Years ago writers were also called “wordsmiths.” Like any skilled tradesman, there is a skill or knack to writing. Like the old saying suggests, “Any tool works best in skilled hands.”  Your story will read better as you develop your skill as a wordsmith.

Often when I am writing, I get into a flow similar to a musician in a rhythm. Not only are the words important to paint your story, but there is a flow to the words in each sentence and paragraph. This awareness will come with time as you mature as a writer with your own style.

I encourage you to read other famous authors’ books not only to enjoy their stories, but to study the writer’s style. You may already have a few favorite authors who you might mimic or you can develop your own blend. Obviously, the more original and entertaining you can be, the better your stories will be enjoyed.

Again, no matter what style you develop, how old you are, or what you are writing, keep in mind that WRITING IS RE-WRITING.

Another important aspect of writing is to keep it real. It is important to do research as you will learn in Lesson 5.