Monday, December 2, 2013
Revise vs. Rewrite
When I’m editing a written work and I come across a passage that just strikes me as odd, I know it needs to be fixed. From there, the question is how to do it. Generally speaking, editing will come down to revising or rewriting. As a rule, I prefer to revise as much as possible. This is doubly true when I’m editing somebody else’s work. As far as I’m concerned, the original author already said what they’re trying to say. If I remove their words and start putting in my own, then I might as well take their name off as the author, too. Revising, for me, is the process of maintaining the integrity of the original words, but streamlining the flow and clarifying the actions/arguments. Revision would be turning the sentence, “I finally got around to checking out on Tuesday that one Thai restaurant that Jimmy told me about at the party last week” into, “On Tuesday, I checked out that Thai restaurant Jimmy told me about at the party last week.” Rewriting is the process of basically deleting a passage and making a whole new sentence. This is a more extreme kind of editing that I will save for basically unsalvageable writing. I will also rewrite a passage if what it is trying to say is unimportant or doesn’t follow the logical thought. I would rewrite the sentence, “I finally got around to checking out on Tuesday that one Thai restaurant that Jimmy told me about at the party last week” to, “I ate at the Thai restaurant my friend told me about and had the best pad thai ever.” The point of rewriting this way is to refocus the sentence away from the history and toward the experience of the meal. Revising and rewriting are both great tools. Know what they do and which one is best for the situation you’re in.