August 19, 2017 @ 5:58 AM

Seven Sensible Steps to Success as a Writer
Step 6 (continued) A complete rewrite…?

Sometimes it’s necessary to rewrite the book from the beginning.

I believe the Australian author Patrick White, a Nobel Laureate, usually wrote out his novels three times: the original by hand, the second and third drafts on the typewriter.

Only after the third full draft would he give it to his companion to read.

It’s certainly true that a complete rewrite concentrates the mind of the author utterly on the material: reducing it to the essentials and helping to ensure the imaginative vision remains more consistent throughout.

But to be honest, in this digital age the computer makes it so much easier than the typewriter to amend and re-order one’s material.

I rarely engage in a full rewrite, unless I feel that whole literary artifice I call my book has collapsed around me, and needs reconstructing from the foundations upwards.

It happened often enough when I was just starting out as a writer, but happily not so frequently in my later years. Experience, I guess.

Rather, I use the word processing facilities of the machine and a fairly ruthless sub-editor’s approach on my own part to complete the second draft.

The proviso, of course – as I've maintained throughout this series – is that I always keep a print-out or written note on the hard copy of any changes I've made.

Next: How many drafts...?


Photo: Patrick White, photo from the 1940s, Wikimedia Commons.