and I realize I am only one of five writers ever to say this—your first draft is good! If it wasn't, then you shouldn't bother rewriting it and should move on to some other project. Is it perfect? Heck no! That's why we're shiny-ing it up. But it's good. There are good sentences, good turns of phrase, good exchanges and flow. What's more, there is heart; when you wrote it, you were feeling certain things that you won't be feeling if you completely rewrite it. Don't forget that, and don't throw it away.
When to Rewrite
Miscast Spells had it's major changes when I went from planning to drafting, so I didn't have too many rewrites, but I did significantly change the prologue; it was actually the last scene of that book that I wrote. Why did I rewrite it? Well, it was boring, so I spiffed it up, added more characterization, and actually showed Emmaline getting cursed during it (yes, that very important scene was not in the first draft!).
Everyone has their own style of taking on the rewriting process. Some people use Track Changes, or different colors of font and highlights. Some people print their documents and make changes on the paper itself with a red pen. I would say to find whatever works for you.
My process is: I usually read each chapter through, changing what I can and marking other things for later review, usually using Track Changes. I will leave myself notes, like, "Check for continuity with Chapter 5" or "Is this clear?". If it's something that irks me, but I'm not sure why, I'll usually highlight the whole section for later review and rewriting. I will then move on to the next chapter and do the same thing, then return to my notes after going through the rest of the book.
When it comes to how to rewrite a scene, I will usually outline my thoughts on paper. I might chart out two possible scenarios and see which one works best, or enumerate how changing one thing will effect the rest of the events in the story. I like writing on paper because it's quick, impermanent, and easily scrapped. There's also something about moving my hands, using different colored ink, and seeing my ideas written out spatially that helps me think. It's a way of seeing the story from a different perspective that I find helpful.
And that's it for rewriting. We've covered the main chunk of the editing process,the hard part, if you will. All that's left is copyediting. See you next time!