1. Taylor3
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    Taylor3 Member

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    My novel is ruined

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Taylor3, Jun 22, 2010.

    This is going to be a long post so please bear with me because I really need help.

    I'm working on a novel in openoffice.org3.

    I was getting toward the end of it but I cut something and then when I pasted it the document went haywire and jumped from 500 pages to over a thousand.

    Well I think what happened is it kind of took that part I cut and inserted it in all throughout the document and then added on an extra 400 pages of that part.

    It doesn't sound like that big of a deal except other parts are messed up, I think, but I can't be sure. Because the whole thing was kind of a mess in the first place and I was planning on fixing everything in my rewrite.

    It's been so long since I have even looked at the beginning and middle, that I hardly remember what I was going to keep, chop etc. This wasn't a big deal...until now...because now random pages are placed in the middle of other pages. Also, there is a ton of work inserted around the document that I got rid of long ago.

    So basically the whole thing is messed up. To make matters worse, when I try to scan through the thousand page document it will jump me around randomly, from say page 500 to a page in the two hundreds.

    So I won't be using openofficeorg anymore. That much is clear.

    But my question is, I heard sometimes people just rewrite their novel anyways. Instead of editing it they rewrite it. I am thinking maybe I should just start over and rewrite it.

    I also am wondering what is a good, reliable word document to use. I write on a macbook so hopefully something mac compatible.

    Finally, if anyone that has dealt with something like this, can give me any advice, I would be very appreciative. Specifically, to the people that have finished and published novels, did you rewrite it the 2nd and 3rd time, or did you more just edit it.

    Not sure if anyone on this site has been published, but I hope there is! thx!!
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Are you running Vista or Windows 7? If so, you should be able to revert to a previous version of the file.

    In any case, frequent backups are always wise.

    And you should always keep copies of your early drafts, regardless of whether you choose to edit or rewrite your drafts. I frankly see no good reason to type it all in anew.
     
  3. Taylor3
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    Taylor3 Member

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    I'm running Mac Osx version 10.5.8

    Is there a way to revert to a previous version of the file, do you know?
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't use a Mac, sorry. Nor have I ever used the Windows revert to a previous version, I only know it was a new feature beginning with Vista. Not to belabor the point, but I count on a regular backup schedule.
     
  5. Taylor3
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    Taylor3 Member

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    As far as frequent backups being wise. The issue isn't that it crashed and I lost my work. The whole document doubled, and added random work in the middle of pages. Then I accidentally hit save. So unless I figure out how to revert to a previous saved copy, my document is over a thousand pages long with lots of random stuff intertwined throughout it.

    Also, I can't cut parts out anymore. i was just fiddling with it and it started to double again. This time I closed the document without saving it, so it didn't matter.

    But the first time I saw my document expanding, I freaked out, saved it, then saved it over my saved version on my thumb drive.

    it was the saving it that ruined me.

    Hope that is more clear and any help is much appreciated!
     
  6. Ganman3
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    Ganman3 Member

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    I don't know, but you wrote all of that and put effort into it, so I see no reason to start over.
    More than likely, you're going to have to go through it at some point anyway. Try to get Word, or Acrobat, or some other writing program, and save it as that type, then run through the whole thing. It takes commitment to edit a novel, but even with this problem, you should be able to pull editing off.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Have you configured your Time Machine?
     
  8. Taylor3
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    Taylor3 Member

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    what does that mean can you please tell me what that means and how to do it?
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The Time Machine is a feature in Leopard (I'm running Leopard, not Snow Leopard) which acts to take a snapshot of your Mac at a certain point in order to revert to a previous incarnation of how things were in the past. If you have not configured your Time Machine, then you have not taken snapshots. No snap shots, no reverting. :(

    The Time Machine can be found up at the very top of the screen next to the little telephone lookin' thingy. It looks like a clock with the arrow circling to widdershins.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is there any important formatting in the document that you can't live without? You could save it to a separate file, different name, as text only, then try to straighten it out in a text editor. Text files are simple enough that you shouldn't see weird behavior.
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This isn't a bad idea. Time consuming and somewhat tedious, but better than nothing if you haven't got a back up. Use your search function in the OpenOffice to look for the opening line and closing lines of your story. Wherever the file got duplicated in the middle, it will show you the starting and end points. Hope that helps some.

    Also, once you have gotten this mess straightened, look into Dropbox for your Mac. It lets you keep 2 gigs of files stored at Dropbox (internet storage away from your actual Mac) for free. You can connect your Mac to drop box (or not) when you wish. This keeps a saved safe file away from your changes until you are ready to connect to Dropbox again and sync/update everything. It's kinda like having a 2 gig pin drive that you never need to worry about loosing. Dropbox is a free app, is Mac native, and works a treat. Oh, and at the 2 gig level, again, freee! And if you have an iPad or iPod Touch (I have the latter) it syncs to those as well. Welcome to the future! It's so sci-fi-licious. :)
     
  12. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    Sounds like you need to do a little troubleshooting, in a way. Is that copy-paste/cut problem an error with OpenOffice, or does it happen in other programs? You may want to uninstall and reinstall OpenOffice if that's the source of the problem. Otherwise, you'll need to find a way to fix your computer. In the meantime, the above comment about saving as simple text might be useful. Or, rather than save it as such, you can just copy and paste. TextEdit comes on your Mac as the default simple text editor. Give it a shot.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Before you try ANY repair on the file, make a copy and put it in a safe place. As bad as it currently is, it is still possible to muck it up even worse.
     
  14. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hard Drives and Flash Drives fail. Saving only the latest version can also prove to be a problem (beyond this particular instance).

    As Wreybies was indicating, saving somewhere else (besides computer/flash drive) is wise. If nothing else, save and email a version to yourself each time you add new information/edits. There are plenty of places you can get free email accounts (yahoo, gmail, etc.). This way you will always have an offsite backup available should the worst happen.

    Sorting it out is probably better as I see it, even though stopping and starting over with a clean slate may sound reasonable...you're better off sorting out when you're not super frustrated with the situation. There are pages and pages of good content, just have to sift it out.

    Good luck whatever route you take and learn from this experience moving foward.

    Terry
     
  15. Taylor3
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    Taylor3 Member

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    I'm using the text edit idea to get it all sorted out. Thanks for the tip on Dropbox. I already downloaded it and plan on using it. Thanks everyone!
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    All of the big-name word processors (including OpenOffice.org) are pretty reliable. None of them is perfect, and it could be that the problems you had were due to the file becoming corrupted independently of the word processor. The answer isn't to change word-processor (unless you need the psychological reassurance of using something different). The answer is to keep good backups. That doesn't just mean saving the latest version in lots of places, it means saving previous versions in lots of places too. I'd say for anything important make a new version after any significant piece of work and keep at least the previous two versions. More, if you can spare the storage, and storage is cheap nowadays.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    with ms word, you can 'undo' changes with a click of the mouse, or by hitting the ctrl + z keys at the same time... and you can keep doing that till you're back where you started... if you can't do that:

    first save what you have to a flash drive or other back-up thingy...

    then:

    find yourself a 'puter expert and have them retrieve your original file [it can be done]... if your work is important to you then it's worth a few bucks, if you have to pay for their time...

    if you can't possibly do that:

    just buckle down and go through the ms, deleting all the repeated parts... then do a read-through of what's left, to see if any other parts are really in the wrong place...

    if they are, figure out where they belong and put them there... don't whine if it's not easy... being a writer isn't easy...

    when you get the ms back in order, print it out so you can give it another careful read and find any misplaced parts you may have missed... on paper, you can cut and move parts around on the floor, to arrange them properly...

    finally, before you write anything more, invest in ms word... despite anyone's feelings about bill gates and his products, word is still the lingua franca of the writing world, so you might as well start writing like a pro, if you ever hope to be one...
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can do that in OpenOffice.org too.
    No, .doc is the lingua franca of the writing world. MS Word is just one way of producing .doc files. OpenOffice.org is another, and there are many more. Is this going to turn into another MS Word advocacy thread?
     
  19. Taylor3
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    Taylor3 Member

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    Maybe I will look into it. If MS word really is what most pros use, I'll definitely switch.

    Can you use MS Word on a Mac though?
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It will not. Nor will it turn into am FSF advocacy thread.

    But anyone in tje software industry will raise an eyebrow when any product promises 100% compatibility. The standard IS Microsoft Word documents, and if te submissions editor loads a .doc file in Word, and it scrambles upon loading, he or she will waste no time on it.

    Therefore, using the program the professionals do IS valid advice, especially if it appears the "compatible" program may have screwed the file.

    I know how Word will behave if it runs out of memory during save. I don't know if OpenOffice is as recoverable in those conditions. I don't know if either program is as robust under MacOS either.

    That having been said, there is no need to hijack the thread over Microsoft/not_Microsoft.

    Taylor: Yes, there is a version of MSWord that runs on Mac.
     
  21. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, you can.
     
  22. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed. And there are huge differences between different word processors. But my point is that almost none of those differences have any relevance whatsoever to novel writing. They are to do with complex business collaboration, inclusion of images, drawing of diagrams, writing scripts to automate tasks and so on. The novelist doesn't need any of that. The novelist needs to be able to enter text, do basic formatting and save in .doc format. The advanced user might want to be able to do basic layout too; not because layout is any of the writer's business (it's the publisher's problem) but because it can be helpful to get a feel for how paragraph lengths and general whitespace will appear.

    This is all in the really simple and well-exercised part of the software, and no respectable word processor that offers any .doc capability at all is going to have any trouble with it. This isn't a "Microsoft v. not_Microsoft" argument, this is an "it really doesn't matter at all" argument -- and the original question did explicitly ask for advice on the choice of word processor.
    I mainly use Microsoft Office 2007 (although I much preferred 2003, and 2007 has some problems writing .doc files that are compatible with earlier versions -- not in any areas that will affect the novelist, though). I sometimes use OpenOffice.org for convenience -- I find it quicker and easier for simple documents -- but I mainly keep it on my disk because I find it far more effective at recovering corrupted .doc files than Microsoft Word is (even in file recovery mode). It feels to me to be more stable and better at file management than MS Word.[/QUOTE]
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    And that will be the last word on the debate in this thread.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Software choices aside, I think that the main key to avoiding a repeat of the corruption issue - or, really, to make the corruption issue less important if it happens again - is multiple regular backups. For anything - programming, writing, drawing - if a file is really important to me, I:

    - Make at least one backup for each day that I work on the file, named with the day's date.
    - When the backups are a week old, keep at least one backup per week and delete the extras.
    - When the backups are a month old, keep at least one backup per month and delete the extras.

    And if I were to make some major milestone change, I'd take an extra backup before and after.

    Some of the backups should be stored to a second or even a third location - I try to do this at least weekly, so that if my entire laptop goes under, I'll never lose more than a week's worth of work.

    ChickenFreak
     
  25. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agreed completely, and that looks to me like a good backup schedule.
     

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