What Counts as New Material?

I’m going through revisions on a couple of projects, one of them a short story and the other a novella, and in my effort to return to my “write everyday” habit (yeah, there have been speed bumps), I find myself asking what counts as new material.  For instance, if you’re going through revisions an writing a new draft, does that count?

I ask because it was a question brought up by a non-writer friend of mine who wanted to know if revisions was a way of me cheating my own goal or was it legit.  Material written in a first draft is definitely new.  Duh.  But when it comes to revising, I think it depends on how drastic the changes have become.

For example, the short story that I wrote is pretty straightforward and it’s just a matter of adding and subtracting certain details.  The general narrative has been established.  It is not new material.

The novella I’m working on?  The first draft was an elaborate brainstorming project, and I quickly realized that there was so much work to be done with it that I’m starting from scratch with the second draft.  I’ve got a clearer idea of what needs to happen, but everything needs to be redone.  I don’t even want to keep the good parts of the first draft for fear that some of the bad parts might slip in.  In this case, my rewrite is brand new material.

These are two extremes, and like I said, there’s so much grey space in between that you have to consider it on a case-by-case basis.  I just wanted to illustrate this real quick for those of you who might be wondering the same thing with your own work.

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