1. Myers
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    Myers Member

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    Drafts

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Myers, Oct 2, 2008.

    I think that through the use of computers drafts have become almost obsolete. Or maybe that's just the way I am.

    Back at school I didn't have a computer so I'd write up stories for my English class the old fashioned way. Now I only ever use pen and paper for shopping lists or leaving a note for someone at work - "Customer left this, bla bla bla." Before my computer, when I wrote something and wanted to change it that meant writing it again. That being a second draft. Then a third, etc.

    Since getting a computer though I don't really have many drafts of stories I've written. Every time I change something its just a case of going back through the text and deleting something or adding a word or two here and there. I can end up with a piece of writing where over half the text has been changed yet this is still, technically, the first draft. The original is completely gone. Lost for ever.

    I regret this. Sometimes because I may have stupidly, in a moment of frustration, deleted something worthwhile but other times because its nice to see how a piece of work I'm actually proud of has evolved.

    So am I the only one who is erasing the early history of their work or do others find themselves doing the same thing?
     
  2. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    I usually work the same way. Mind you, even when I was younger and wrote primarily in those little school notebooks, I still would routinely cross out large sections or add in extra sentences that crawled up the side of the page like caterpillars.

    If I'm ever making significant revisions or revisions I'm unsure about, I always use that handy "Save As" feature to make a "draft" copy of the writing, in case I change my mind later.
     
  3. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I, too, am a huge fan of the "save as" feature. I usually label my work with a version number (such as putting v2.0 in the file name) and move old versions into a folder labeled "archives." I change the first number anytime an entire chapter or something is removed. Recently, I rewrote Chapters 1 and 2 from scratch, bumping me up to 2.0. Minor changes, such as altering entire paragraphs, changes the decimal number. That's my system and I'm sticking to it.

    I also have files from old novels that I started and never finished. I like to see how my writing style has changed or look at old writing for fresh ideas.
     
  4. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    I've never once saved a draft of my work. Than again I am the "new generation" I've used the computer since I was five years old. I don't like reading my stories when there are blatantly obvious mistakes and errors, or when the dialouge or content is not what I had dreamt it up to be in my mind. I prefer just seeing the final masterpiece, and being proud of how it turned out.

    I don't personally see a need to save the works when they are full of errors and design flaw, but than again I am young and I don't know.
     
  5. TwelfthNight
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    TwelfthNight Member

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    I'm the "new generation" like Nate. I've known how to use a computer since I was young (not that I'm good at it, but that's a completely different matter).

    Until recently I never saved the first draft; I always just went along and edited my writing, saving it under the same name as before.
    Now I've started printing out my work for the day, so I can read over it when I'm not near my computer, and it makes editing far easier compared to scrolling through pages of work. It's a bit tedious really, but it works.
     
  6. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    Sounds like a clever idea, it would make my study halls at school less boring as well.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not saving your first and other earlier drafts is a major mistake, if you intend to try to get your work published, as having that paper trail [you can print the stuff out when/if needed] is the best evidence you wrote it, if proof of the work's ownership is ever questioned...
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Interesting perspective and it certainly makes sense . . . kind of like insurance against plagiarists.
     
  9. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    I save the various chapters under different folders like 1st edition, 2nd edition, Final edition, ect.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I do all my writing on computer, and I always save the first complete draft. I also save significant intermediate versions.

    If anything, the computer makes it easier to create and keep multiple drafts, because you don't have to start over for each new draft.

    You just need to think of doing it, just like you had to think not to throw out crumpled, coffee-stained, scribbled-over first drafts on paper.
     
  11. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    I keep hardcopies in a file in a crate that is shoved under my computer table. Usually, I end up having to print a draft and pass it around for friends to slash away at with guilty pleasure, so I end up with hardcopies. I usually never keep drafts on the computer, though I do have a HD with all my final drafts in it.

    It might be a good idea to start saving drafts now that I think about it.
     
  12. NateDoggy
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    NateDoggy Member

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    I never thought of how important a draft can be, I save like every five minutes so when I go to the editing save that handy ctrl + s feature is just like impulse.
     
  13. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    I always do several drafts of my novels and, oddly enough, I save and back up each draft. I have this ridiculous idea that each word I write is so precious I can't bear to waste it by deleting it. It's silly of course. It's not like I have a limited number of words that have to last me for a lifetime. It's just a weird quirk of mine.
     
  14. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Best tip ever.

    Thank you so much, I didn't even realize ctrl+s existed!
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    CTRL-S does save out your document, but Microsoft Word already does something similar, writing out the current document's state every few minutes. If you've ever had your computer crash in mid-session, you'll notice that you are presented with recovery options the next time you open the document. That allows you to recover your unsaved changes up to the last time Word saved them out. Word's default save interval is every ten minutes, but you can change it in Options.

    Window's Vista has another feature that allows you to revert a file back to an earlier version if you save changes by mistake. I haven't actually used that feature yet, so I'mn not relying on it as a fallback strategy, but it's good to know it exists if you ever need it. But if I ever go in to make a major change to a document, from a version I want the option to return to, I make a backup copy before beginning my edit.

    In some cases, I keep the backup copy permanently, other times I will delete it when I'm certain I will never want to revert to it.

    And, of course, all this is in addition to maintaining an overall backup/recovery procedure for the computer as a whole.
     
  16. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    The day of the traditional draft may be numbered but I always have a separate file in which I explore alternatives.

    For example, in the original story the character may have chosen one way. In my alternative file, I may write a few pages on how it would have played out the other way. If I like it then I cut and paste into the original, if not, then it stays there for eternity.
     
  17. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Well, on the one hand, I don't really do "drafts" so that's not an issue with me. I write something the best I can the first time and any revising I do is so minor (delete a few words here, change a word there, etc.) that there's no point in saving both "versions." If it's just a matter of a few words here and there being modified, the stories are too similar to bother saving them twice. I never do such heavy reworking that there would be a significant difference.

    That being said, if a few years down the line I look back on a story and think, "Ugh, this could be redone," and decide to do so, it doesn't matter that I do all my work on the computer now. I would never, EVER erase or delete or otherwise get rid of the earlier version, no matter HOW horrible it is. I just believe in keeping a history of my work. It helps me see how much I've improved. Plus, it can be entertaining to see how I wrote in the past.

    I never threw out childhood writings, either. (My parents did though. Grrr.)

    If I were a revising/drafting kind of person, I would definitely keep all drafts.
     
  18. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I do the first draft by hand so that will always be there. Clean-up, revisions, editing happen on a printout of what I type in.

    Even when I edit on the computer, anything I cut out goes into a separate file called "cuts".

    At the end of a project, everything goes onto a disc, and is bundled up with the printouts and is saved in a file cabinet.
     
  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Liquid Story Binder has an option to save previous versions of any given draft. You can do it often as you like and keep as many older versions of a given doc as you like. I do it before any major editing session.
     
  20. Myers
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    Myers Member

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    I'm going to start making an effort to save eariler versions of my work. I've been working on a novel, got about a third into it, but hit a wall. So I moved it all in to a "First Draft" folder, printed it all off and have started retyping it all, making changes as I've gone along. I've found this most useful as it really makes me take notice of what I've read, instead of just skimming through it and I'll really be able to see how significant the changes that I've made have been.
     
  21. missupernatural
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    I think on the computer, the idea of a first draft is completely different to that of a handwritten draft.

    Anything handwritten is the raw elements of your work, the very first ideas to come into a physical existance which cannot be erased. This is then re-written a dozen times before you reach what you'd call a "good copy".

    Although computer first drafts generally skip this "raw" stage, I find it's important and best if you print off a physical copy before you go through your first proper read through. The red ink on the white page is somewhat satisfying as you perfect each sentence.

    I find the raw stages of my work are useless later on, and it's good just to have first drafts printed out from the computer.

    And plus, if you want to be published, your reader is most likely to be reading a physical copy of your book, not off a computer screen.
     
  22. DownUnder
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    DownUnder Contributing Member

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    I'll be honest.

    Before reading this thread, I never, ever saved a draft, of anything. I always just used CTRL + s and saved the same document, over and over. After reading this I have decided to start saving drafts, because of the benefits and 'fallback'. Thankyou to whoever started this thread :).
     

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