Re Writing

Paris Review: How much rewriting do you do?

Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending to A Farewell To Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.

Paris Review: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that stumped you?

Hemingway: Getting the words right.


ReWriting is improving the style and structure of your text, while preserving its intended meaning.

Before the word processor, it meant manually copying the original text and incorporating changes. Similarly, before interactive work stations, ReWriting a program also included manually copying the original. Perhaps this explains the confusion between the terms writing and ReWriting in common programmer usage.

To many programmers, ReWriting a program, means WritingCodeFromScratch. This opposes the term ReWriting in general usage which is a cornerstone of good writing; see WritingIsRewriting. Perhaps one intention is to help distinguish ReWriting and ReFactoring which are otherwise similar practices.

Much as ReWriting is to text, ReFactoring is improving the style and structure of existing source, while preserving its meaning to the computer. Also like ReWriting, ReFactoring rarely involves throwing the source away and starting over. Although, see Substitute Algorithm in RefactoringImprovingTheDesignOfExistingCode for an exception.


See also RewritingIsNotRefactoring, WhatIsRefactoring, WhatIsReworking, RewriteRules, RewritingHat

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