1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Scrapping a manuscript

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garball, May 24, 2014.

    After letting a couple people read part of my MS, there was a general consensus: "The story is great, but the writing stinks."

    I admit I made every mistake a novice writer could make, but that does not discourage me. After all, I am a novice writer; I should make mistakes. Something interesting happened while writing the book, though. My main character, who was born a semi-autobiographical character, separated himself and became his own person. I can visualize him reading his own story and shaking his head at me disapprovingly.

    So, Herb and I are going to try again to tell his story through the written word again, but this time better. I feel like shredding the MS and deleting all of the drafts from my computer and starting from scratch. If there was something worth keeping from the original, it should find its way into the second attempt, right?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Whatever you do, DO NOT DELETE YOUR OLD DRAFTS!!

    You will almost definitely regret permanently deleting anything you write. Be a packrat about this. Just stick the drafts on a flash drive or on the top shelf of your closet - you may never look at them again. But if you ever want to, you need to have them available.

    You can start again with a clean slate - a brand-new blank document in your word processor. But that doesn't mean you have to lose the work you've done.

    Search around this forum, and you'll find many people who've lamented the fact that they deleted their old stuff and can't get it back.
     
  3. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never mothballed a total manuscript, but when I was starting to get serious I got the farthest I had ever gotten and I had to toss it.

    Most works never hit 1,000 words. Only two ever reached 10,000. The one I tossed was 23,000 words and it hurt so much. But it was for the better. Five and a half month later I had a 94,000 word long manuscript: my current one.

    And I regret that I've lost some of the older ones, but I'm glad that I've never deleted one.
     
  4. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    I'm disappointed...


    because Garball didn't ask me to read it. [​IMG]
     
  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You've just been waiting for an opportunity to use that emoticon, haven't you?
     
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  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Did you open with a sunset?
     
  7. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Worse, a morning routine
     
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  8. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, don't be sad, buddy. I wouldn't want to cause a friend the pain that reading my MS could cause:friend:
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Rewrite it, that's what redrafts are for!
     
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  10. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    If the story is good, rewrite it. That's what 2nd, 3rd, etc drafts are for.
     
  11. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't call it so much a draft, but a total rewrite.
     
  12. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    You've got this thing totally backwards. Your baby is supposed to be the best looking one on Earth, not used as a door stop.
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I heard somewhere that D.H. Lawrence would write his second drafts from scratch, without even looking at the first drafts. But that doesn't mean he burned the first drafts.
     
  14. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Garball


    Admit it, you're being a drama queen
     
  15. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That's perfectly fine.

    Just...please don't delete it. Don't do what I did. Put it in a little thumb drive and stick it on a shelf somewhere...or maybe in a file in a filing cabinet. Just don't...don't delete it, please...

    ;___;

    <sobs uncontrollably due to loss of all the drafts he stupidly deleted over the years>
     
  16. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I'm a princess if you couldn't tell by the tiara
     
  17. Xueqin-II
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    Xueqin-II Member

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    This makes me want to read the whopping 300 pages of scrap that I threw up when I was 15. Perhaps I could find the papers somewhere...

    Really, never delete anything. My first poem died in arson and, though shamefully loathing, I miss it. There's a magic to seeing your art at different stages, and it's wonderful to see it grow so organically. No matter what, it's a part of your mind, and you should never willingly forget what was once a wonderful memory. That, and there's more than a few practical reasons to keep the stuff. I can never imagine losing the binders upon binders I've developed...
     
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  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @Garball - Several years ago, I was rather unceremoniously dropped from a band after a year...via e-mail. (I know...ewwwww!!!!). I shudder to think what might have happened had I not been such an old friend of the guy who had recruited me in the first place.

    Anyway, as a means of dealing with it, I decided to write a novel about a group of middle-aged musicians, at least some of whom treat their bandmates like crap. As I wrote, I had some pretty good ideas for characters and a few subplots occurred to me. I was a total pantser about it because it wasn't really a writing project, it was therapy. Except that part way through, I decided to make it a writing project. 85,000 words later, I had a first draft. I started editing it and realized that fully half of what I'd written was backstory. After wrestling with it for about a year, I ripped all the backstory - 40,000 words, gone. I started developing new story ideas, but soon realized I was flying in several different directions at once. So, I stopped completely and set it aside for a few months. When I went back to it, all I could do was stare at the computer screen staring back at me. After about a week of this, I declared the project indefinitely on hold. Maybe all it had ever been good for was therapy, and it served its purpose.

    I considered two possible projects I wanted to pursue, and after some excellent advice from someone on this forum whom I trust and respect, I chose one of them. I have finished it and am now in the editing phase, hoping to have a final draft for beta readers in a few months. But every once in a while, I hear a song or have an idea and I think, "this might work well in the band novel." Because it isn't dead. It's hibernating.

    Two pieces of advice:

    1. DON'T TRASH YOUR DRAFTS. :rant: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!
    2. Set what you have aside and work on something else for a while. Give it space and let it breathe inside your head for a while. When you come back, you'll be able to decide whether you want to start over or if you want to use what you'd already written as a foundation.

    Good luck.
     
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  19. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    On a related note, always take backups of everything. That way if you delete a draft (for whatever reason), you'll always have an extra copy.
     
  20. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    @EdFromNY, that's some great advice and a very relatable story to go with it.
     
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  21. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks @EdFromNY .
    I have started a second writing project. Unfortunately, the first won't let me concentrate on anything else I try to write. I feel like I've got to finish this or I can't ever write another novel length
     
  22. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    Just be glad that you have the itch to write, and that you have the nails to scratch it.
     
  23. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You can also take a reading break - I do that every once in a while. Just read some stuff that's different from you usual reading or writing fare. OTOH, if you feel that driven, then have at it. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

    But, still, don't dump what you have. At the very least, stick it on a flash drive, as @minstrel suggested. (Also, never argue with a squirrel guy when it comes to flash drives!)
     
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  24. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Yes, when squirrel guys tell you to do things, you do them!
     
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  25. Xueqin-II
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    Xueqin-II Member

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    Confucius says that the squirrel is nearing with the rat in the race of wits.
     

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