1. Iceni

    Iceni New Member

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    First Draft Editing

    Discussion in 'Revision and Editing' started by Iceni, Jun 6, 2022.

    I have my first ever first draft which needs heavy editing.

    Do people save their first draft and start a new document, or edit the actual first draft?
     
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

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    I save every version of the first draft as I go along, and some writing software will do this automatically (maybe not for dozens of revisions though). I've got like over 100 saved files of an unfinished project I've been working on for over a year, but I'm sure that's unusual and overkill.

    On the other hand, I don't see the point in editing the original document and losing that raw first draft.

    Also, are you editing entirely with a soft copy and using a bookmark to know when you left off? A lot of people edit by hand using a double spaced hard copy. I haven't gotten to that point yet.

    There are even some maniacs that write a first draft, then rewrite the entire novel from scratch!

    I don't think there's any right answer to the question. I hate saying "do what works best for you" but this may be one of those situations.
     
  3. trevorD

    trevorD Active Member

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    Some chapters I wiz through the edit quickly. Others end up as a rewrite. I always assume the newly edited work is better than what I had.
     
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  4. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody The Ole Frazzle-Dazzle Contributor

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    My process is:
    • I do my initial draft (thats just to get all the words on the page)
    • then i go back and reread it and make edits as i go (clean it up a bit more so that its readable)
    • next a make a copy of it and label the copy "Draft 2" (where i do deeper/extensive edits)
    • I have a beta reader read Draft 2 when its completed
    • Make another copy ("Draft 3")
    • Draft 3 is even more edits
    (everytime i make deep edits, i make another copy... but if its shallow edits, like SPAG or inserting a sentence here or there, i dont need to make a copy)
     
  5. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    Now that I think about it, I guess I never have a first draft. I start with an outline (sometimes), put that up in a window on one side of my screen, then I start writing in a separate window on the left side of the screen. Once in awhile I may save a backup copy of the draft, but it's a backup copy of wherever the draft is at that moment in time ... it's not a "first" or "second" or "nth" draft. I'm always jumping back to previous sections or chapters to make changes as I think of them.
     
  6. Iceni

    Iceni New Member

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    Thanks for the responses.

    I have saved my first draft and backed it up to the cloud and will create a new file, copy the first draft across and edit that. Then I can compare if needed.

    Looking forward to it!
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I never save drafts. I don't need the proof of my past mistakes. I work the same document until I really nail it.
     
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  8. ps102

    ps102 Active Member

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    The process for my first book was as such:

    1. Write the draft, keeping chapters on a per-document basis, and storing those chapters in a folder called Draft nth
    2. When finishing the first draft, I make a new folder, and I copy each chapter there to edit it one-by-one.
    3. I did this for two years, focusing SOLELY on that one book, until at the end of last summer I was satisfied and decided to call it finished for now.

    I really like keeping my chapters as separate documents, as that can help me do some custom word count analysis with bash scripting. Plus, it also helps me keep a flow and also a focus. "Today, I will work on two chapters!" And I'll know how much progress I'm making this way by running the script :) Well, of course, some days the words just don't come out. But that's another thing.

    And yes, I did it with editing my chapter as I went along. That had its benefits, but honestly, inexperienced me missed a lot of mundane scenes this way. I subconsciously avoided re-writing scenes because I didn't know what to do with them, so I left them there, and moved on to look at other things in the draft. Doing this consciously might be ok, but not unconsciously. When I realized this mistake (sadly late into editing) it really felt as if my book came alive. Anything I didn't feel, I rewrote from the ground up. It was kinda liberating actually...

    So yeah I do have my old drafts. I don't really read them as they are mess, but I think they are worth having around.

    For backups, I have a Python script make date-stamped copies across several hard drives to absolutely minimize the chance of losing my work. Aside from that, it also automatically uploads it to the cloud as encrypted backups, but it deletes really old copies since cloud space is limited. It does this everyday, so I have always have up-to-date copies of my work. This is absolutely essential for me. IMAGINE if my two year old novel got wiped one day when my main SSD crashed or had its partition table wiped by some virus or some other ransomware nightmare. Two years worth of work down the drain?! No, no, no, no... I didn't just do cloud and local copies. I also did DVD copies. And an actual printed copy just in case. The only way I can lose my work now is if my house gets burned down AND I simultaneously lose access to my cloud account.

    I'm writing my second book now, and I intend to keep it this way. Maybe I'm just paranoid but I'm an IT student and the importance of backups is NEVER underestimated in that industry.
     
  9. Iceni

    Iceni New Member

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    I'm using Scrivener, and back up to laptop and cloud a couple of times a week. Not started editing yet! Hopefully, I will start this weekend and will focus on just rereading the first draft and checking for plot holes, characterisation, and obvious issues. It definitely needs more colour and richness added to it.
     
  10. Gary Wed

    Gary Wed Active Member

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    When I edit, I edit the prime document, every single time. There is no other document and there is no indecision about what I am doing. As well, I edit every single day. If I submit something for review, submission, whatever, I edit. I start editing the moment I start the novel, and I continue thereafter (making the entire concept of a 1st edit moot). Nothing of the past is saved and nothing of the past is reusable.
     
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  11. trevorD

    trevorD Active Member

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    Amen, bro. That's how I do it.
     
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  12. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I have no real system. If it's line editing or minor editing of a scene, I do it in the main doc. If I'm literally rewriting an entire scene or deleting it (basically anything big that needs a full revamp, not just a few lines or details needing a change), then I copy and paste it into a new doc, save that, and then delete it from the main doc and rewrite directly there. If I'm starting a full rewrite from the very beginning or I know there're multiple places that require a major edit, I save-as the doc, nunmber it #2, and edit #2, now taken as the new "main doc".

    For line editing, I edit as I write my first draft, so that just gets deleted as and when. It also means my "heavy edits" are almost never on a word-level but on the bigger picture level. My "rough" drafts aren't rough at all and are always ready to go straight for a beta read.
     
  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    In revisions I save versions along the way, like saving your progress in a video game. I consider it one of the 'saving' graces of working digitally, also in digital painting. In fact that's where I really learned the importance of it. I found if I just keep changing a painting without referring to an earlier version, often I think I'm improving it but actually it's going downhill rapidly and I have no reference to be able to tell. But when I open the new version beside an older one often the difference is stark and very apparent, and usually it wasn't an improvement as I thought it was.

    In fact, in painting I learned to always make changes on a copy layer placed on top of the older version, so I can just cycle the top layer on and off and instantly see the changes. It's kept me from going off track countless times when I thought I was making "improvements". Of course it's different with writing, it isn't purely visual and you can't just blink a layer on and off and instantly see the differences, but I've also found that when I think I've made a lot of improvements (on a structural level usually, or a large-scale revision level) I've actually gone the other way. Often I'll revise revise revise, look back at an earlier version, then make a new copy of the earlier one and just make a few minor changes to it, which turns out to be much better than my heavy edits.
     
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  14. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I save and copy drafts. I work from copies not the originals. This way if a scene goes wrong I can compare. Sometimes we can be over-harsh on original drafts and the revision is not as good as something first stated. Also I went from a third person draft to a 1st person draft for a WIP and it was terrible. A good thing I didn't ditch the first draft.
     
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  15. KiraAnn

    KiraAnn Active Member

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    I've been writing short stories, so my filing arrangements would be different than a novel. I have a primary directory where my writing work is stored; it's on a thumb drive. - Oh, sorry, I'm a long-time programmer, so "directory" comes naturally, not "folder" although it's the same concept.

    Anyway, i first create a subdirectory where everything will go: notes (in simple text files), internet shortcuts to resources, and the story file. i simply name them as I go along and include either a date (in yyyy-mm-dd format) or a version ("_v1"). When I start revising the story, I simply save it first with the next version number.

    And no, I don't give my stories sub-versions or sub-sub-versions like software manufacturers. That's a conceit I never really developed.
     
  16. SapereAude

    SapereAude Contributor Contributor

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    I date to MS-DOS days ... "directory" and "subdirectory" work just fine for me. :cool:
     
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