Good Storytelling or Rut?

Stephen King once said that he is not so much a “good writer” as a “good re-writer.” And I think that would have to be said of anyone who tells a tale of any significant length in type.

Perhaps there are some writers who just “get it right” the first time through. I have had a little experience with getting it right the first time, but most of the time I write, then I revisit and write some more. Then I revisit and edit some choppiness. Then I revisit and write some more. Then I rewrite.

It occurs to me that there are several good reasons writers need to revisit and rewrite portions of a work in progress:

  1. A story evolves in the writer’s mind, and there may be elements that need to be added in earlier places to reflect later evolutions of the plot.
  2. The writer may have the basic skeleton of the plot written out in a basic narrative form, but the characters and settings haven’t been fleshed out well enough for the reader to actually enjoy the story or “get it.”
  3. There may be choppy sections of text where the writer originally struggled with conveying his story  or message to the reader that need to be smoothed out or rewritten completely later.

Like any other job, the ease of writing, the “getting it right the first time,” depends mainly on the frame of mind of the author at the particular time on the particular day he is writing.

Sometimes the words just come, and flow, and the writer rides a comfortable stream of consciousness that pools into keystrokes unobstructed.

And then there are the days when all he can do is pound his head against the desk.