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Heinlein’s Rules And How To Not Rewrite

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So my previous post on Heinlein’s Rules I talked about how I plan to follow the rules and some details on what I can and can not do, based on my reading.

I wanted to go further into it as I have now done some 2nd draft spell checking and punctuation checks. During the process I found some things that could be considered 2nd draft editing. As grammar, spell checking, and punctuation are vital to a professional story, and won’t take away from the creative side of the brain by correcting, I have also found other elements that should be fixed without going into critical mind.

These include:




Plot Clashes

I’ll elaborate on each so you’ll see more on what I’m talking about. I believe each of these are as vital as the spell checking, punctuation, and grammar. I believe that fixing these issues won’t delve into critical voice.


You decide to write a story in past, present, or future tense. Your writing should stay in the tense you have chosen. As you read through your story, watch for tense changes.


Style includes things like how you write out a word that has multiple ways of spelling. Or you decide that a word should be capitalized in certain uses, and not capitalized in other uses. Maybe you have a foreign language and the words that make it into the story are italicized.  Maybe the punctuation rules are flexible, and multiple uses are considered correct. You need to make sure you choose one way and stick to it. These are style and if you start zigzagging on how something is used, it is unprofessional looking.


You have built a world, or researched a subject that plays a major role in your story. You want to make sure the facts are straight. Maybe in a pass, between two mountains, it is always storming. But you have your characters waltzing through on a sunny and nice day. That’s getting your facts wrong. Maybe your story is set in a country you had to research about, and you found in your writing that your character pets a sacred donkey in front of the locals and they didn’t blink an eye, when doing so is the death sentence. That’s a fact that is wrong and needs fixing.

I don’t consider this critical mind. I consider this creative, because by fixing something such as this, you need to be creative. Petting the sacred donkey changes your story. Instead of moving on unhindered, your character now must escape from the angry mob of locales, while still achieving his goal. Creativity will play a big part.

A small example: I was going through the 2nd draft of a story about a fairy society. The main character buys a mantis leg from a man to eat. But that is wrong. The main character didn’t buy a mantis leg from a man. The main character bought a mantis leg from a fairy man. That’s a big difference.

Plot Clashes

I don’t call this plot holes because plot holes is part of this category. You’re reading and notice that a big hole in the plot invalidates the whole story. Now you need to get creative to fix this. You can’t publish a story with a large plot hole. I mean, you can, it won’t hurt, it just won’t be a story people want to read. It also won’t help your writing career. By fixing the plot hole, you will make the story better and people may want to read it. I don’t believe this is critical mind because your not changing an already existing plot, your just completing the plot you already set out to write. You are being creative and adding to it.

Another type of plot clash is time clash. Your character is found to be in two spots that he could not possible be in with the amount of time that is passed, or your character is in the same spot at the same time. You need to fix this.

Other Creative Mind Fixes

I may have missed something. As your work on your second draft, you’ll find things that are creative mind fixes. Fill free to add to the list.

What You Don’t Want To Do

You don’t want to go through your manuscript adding in or reducing description, rewriting sentences, cutting out paragraphs, rewriting sections, swapping scenes, changing words, reworking dialogue, and trying to fix what you already wrote. What you wrote the first time is your creative mind. Going through trying to change what you wrote is critical mind and your writing will become stilted.  Stick to the creative mind fixes, give to your first reader, and then publish.

Don’t change the plot around, don’t try to improve the characterization, don’t change the elements of the story. If you notice something about the story you don’t like, take a note, and work on that in the next story.


The Summary

First Draft: Write the story

Second Draft: Spell check, check punctuation and grammar. Check tense, style, facts, plot clashes, and other creative mind possible fixes.

Give to a first reader, or wait a month then read with a fresh mind.

Third Draft: If your first reader finds problems, or you find problems on your fresh read, fix.  This is a touch up. Creative mind issues missed on second draft.



Heinlein’s Rules (I Must Follow)

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These are Heinlein’s Rules.  I am going to follow them from now on.


1) You must write.

2) You must finish what you write.

3) You must not rewrite unless to editorial demand.

4) You must mail your story to an editor who will pay you money.

5) You must keep it in the mail until someone buys it.

Check out these two links at Dean Wesley Smith’s Blog – Heinlein’s Rules – The Myth of Rewriting


The reason, I’m sick of rewriting. It bore’s me, takes the joy of writing out of me. Just check out my post where I describe revision in ten different ways. I don’t like it.

Here is the process I will follow based on my reading and Dean’s responses to questions in the comments section of his Myths of Rewriting post.


I will write the story, first draft, in creative mind. I will put notes where I believe I want to change or add in things, or delete things.

As I am writing, I will cycle through my last writing sessions words and fix and little mistakes; typos, story details, want to add description, etc. I am still in Creative Mind so this is okay.

Once I am done the first draft, I will do a quick spell/grammar/punctuation check and give to a first reader, or I’ll wait a month and read it myself with fresh eyes. Especially if my first reader is getting overwhelmed with stories.

I’ll either agree or disagree with the first reader and fix mistakes found by the first reader.

I’ll then publish or send out to market.

I’ll write the next story.

What this means is I don’t get to write crap. I write the best story I can the first time around. I need to keep track of detail so as not to run into character eye colours changing, etc.  If I’m freezing up while writing, I can Dare To Be Bad, as Dean says, and still write the best I can, even if I feel it is crap. I just can’t give myself permission to write crap on purpose.

Lets see how this goes.

Written by Cali

March 12th, 2014 at 11:57 pm

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