1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing a novel before word processors

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by OurJud, Sep 13, 2016.

    Just watched a film about a writer from the 30s and was struck by how hard it must have been before word processors. How the hell did they do it? Did they just type out one rough draft and then do all the editing by hand in the margins?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a vague notion that they typed it, and then retyped it. The retyping might have involved carbon paper, to get two copies. But I don't know where I got the vague notion from.
     
  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Retyped an entire novel? Man they must have wanted it badly.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just realized: If an author could afford it, they'd probably hand the scribbled-on draft to a typist and pay them to retype it.
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There's a part of me that agrees that the mechanical part of writing the novel must have been a slog. Typos everywhere too, I would imagine, since I'm sure many weren't about to pull a whole sheet of paper out of the typewriter just because they saw a whole bunch of form that should have been from (one of my personal oft-typed mistakes).

    But, I also think there must have been a factor that would have greatly eased the writing process in that there was much less easily-had distraction. The times I have doggedly closed Chrome in order to focus on my WIP, only to open it again, seconds later, as if to mollify some welling panic that I'm not connected to the distraction-sphere.
     
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  6. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Ray Bradbury used to go to the library and pay 10 cents an hour to use their typewriter, when the ink ribbon ran out on his own.

    Though think of how tough it would have been to mass produce books further back into history. Those poor guys who had
    to arrange all the individual stamp letters for every single page.
     
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  7. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wrote my first novel (novella, really) back in 1983 on a yellow legal pad. I have the impression I knocked out the first draft in about two weeks in evenings after work. That's likely a distortion in my memory, but I'm not imagining that draft. It sits upstairs in my file cabinet, full of cross-outs, interlineations, arrows pointing to paragraphs scribbled on other pages, all the rest of it.

    Once I finished it, I typed it up on my Smith-Corona portable with the brown ribbon I affected at the time and bound it between two fabric-covered pieces of hardboard held together with shoelaces. That codex copy I still have as well. I used it when I decided to expand the blankety-blanked thing into my Work in Progress . . . which I've been progressing on, more or less, since sometime in early 2014.

    (I worked faster with the legal pad.)
     
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