Do you keep your drafts?

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Do you keep your drafts?

Postby spauff » 16 May 2011, 12:59

I was thinking about this question last night and was just curious -- do you keep all the drafts of your work?

I'm in the process of packing and moving to a new apartment. I'm also in the middle of revising my novel again, and yesterday, when I started packing up my desk, I avoided packing up the printed, marked-up copies of my novel drafts (I really hate packing).
There are several folders, each a couple inches thick, as well as plot and character notecards, stuffed in an old laptop bag that is really supposed to hold my old laptop computer. There's also a couple loose notebooks and folders stacked on top of that. I have electronic copies of each revision and of course, I'll always save those. But I'm wavering on whether to keep the marked-up and messy pages I just printed off my computer to revise.
On the one hand, I'm proud of them, because it shows how far I've come since my first awful draft. Also, since I'm still revising and don't have an agent or anything yet, I'm slightly worried about tossing anything I've written on this project. What if it's useful later?
But the organized neat-freak part of me wants to go through the folders and start tossing things. It's a new apartment, so it's a fresh start, right? I haven't looked at the paper drafts since I packed them away, so why keep them?
Maybe I'll just get another file box, strictly for the novel.
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby dios4vida » 16 May 2011, 13:30

I do. I have the multiple-inch thick binders with first/second drafts covered in red pen also. To me, they are utterly precious and I can't ever see getting rid of them. I don't know why - I'm still a bit embarassed by some of the things I wrote in the first draft of my first novel (I have entire pages crossed out with "SUCKS" written across them) - but I couldn't bear to get rid of them. They represent such a huge chunk of my life. It's been nearly ten years for me, of blood sweat and tears over every word. I've wrapped a lot of my identity into being a writer and I've poured a lot of myself onto those pages. I would cry if anything ever happened to them.

Whenever I get the "Am I Crazies?" I look down and see them lined up on my shelf and think "No, I'm not crazy. I've done this before. I've written novels. It doesn't matter that they aren't published, they're mine and they're written." It helps to get me through and continue writing on my current WIP.

As a side note: I'm a clutterphobe. I'm constantly going through things and getting rid of stuff (much to my packrat husband's chagraine). But these drafts aren't clutter. They're special. At least they are to me.

So, yeah.

And congrats on the new apartment. :)
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby Guardian » 16 May 2011, 14:03

I have all my drafts since 1998-99. I keep them on my HDD since that time as I always transfer all the content from the old HDDs to the new ones. Plus I have a back up copy on each of my computers. But each of them or even more lies on paper, in six or seven boxes (There are dozens of illustrations for many, but the rest are notes, drafts, etc, etc...). I opened one of these boxes few weeks ago and read it's content. It was good to read those pages and I also noticed my great rookie mistakes what I committed in the past. I don't want to get rid of them, because they mean a lot to me. Plus, some of them also had dozens of ideas what I forgot in the last 10+ years and some of them are still very useful (From that box I just rewrite an old concept and turn it into a short novel.).
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby hektorkarl » 16 May 2011, 15:17

I'd probably shred them. Moving forces me to get rid of stuff I don't really need.

But trust your instincts. If you feel like it's worth hauling them, then maybe they're still important. If you don't actually need them, they probably won't make the next move :).
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby Claudie » 16 May 2011, 20:07

I keep my past drafts, but most of them aren't printed. They are .doc files hidden on two different computers and two back-up. Sometimes I get a urge to reread old versions, if only to comfort me that I have progressed in my writing. When I do the files are right there, waiting for me.

The paper versions I have are all free printed copy I obtained from winning NaNoWriMo. Typically when the offer for a CreateSpace proof copy is about to run out, I put all the old drafts under an "Anthology 20XX" and have them printed.
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 16 May 2011, 20:47

Yes, but I don't keep printed copies. I have a flash drive and a complicated system for storing my drafts that is probably more complicated than necessary. I keep draft folders (Draft 1, Draft 2, Draft 3) for when the story makes a big departure or major changes from the last time I edited the chapters. Every chapter has its own doc file, and I keep multiple edited copies of each chapter and they are named like this: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc etc etc

I also do all of my editing on the computer, so this helps with that.

I also would be pretty upset if I didn't keep all of my drafts because I have found that a previous draft was better than a later draft.
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby Mike R » 16 May 2011, 21:24

I save over as I'm doing edits, though I do save to two sticks and the drive. If I have an old draft printed somewhere, it's unintentional; once I've done what I'm going to do with the crits, they are recycled.

I can imagine someone cutting and pasting themselves into a looney bin surrounded by flash drives and binders

"Wait! Wait!" she cried as we pried the laptop loose from her paper-cut fingers, "I remember where I saved draft 3.1415. It's on the red stick with the chrome on the side and the frosted translucent cap. That's the one I need. I completes the circle. The circle! Don't you see? Don't you get it? Is anyone listening? Nonononononono. You are not putting that thing on me. Wait. What's the needle for? What are y o u d o i...."

I suspect those of you who save your drafts are as aghast at the thought of destroying them as I am at saving them.

It's okay though. We can still be friends.
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby Collectonian » 17 May 2011, 08:02

I do while I'm working on it, in case I want to go back and compare, or review any notes I made in an area, especially with the paper draft. If/when its accepted and published, I'll probably keep them zipped up (electrons don't cost much) for historical purposes for awhile. The printed ones will be shredded except of course proof copies :-)
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby rhrussellwriter » 17 May 2011, 10:02

I absolutely keep all my drafts, and I can't tell you how many times I've been glad that I did. I've put back scenes that were cut years later, and even used some to launch whole new stories. I keep virtually every variation in Scrivener files, and I print out all major overhauls. I even bought an old printer at the Goodwill for $10—one with cartridges that are easy to refill myself. It's super cheap that way.

I keep the different drafts of the same novel in a storage bin, with colored sheets of paper between the drafts. On the colored sheet I write a brief description of the variation and the date. I try to keep them in the order they were written. Sometimes it's easier to find what I'm looking for on the paper copy, and in at least one case, a very significant revision got lost in the transition to a new computer. The paper copy is all I have.

I wouldn't keep multiple copies of a story that were essentially the same, though. For example, if I print a story multiple times just to make another pass through looking for errors, I don't keep those.
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby Nicole R » 17 May 2011, 10:14

I keep electronic versions of all my drafts, as well as printed critiques or feedback from my crit group. I know I have a few printed drafts of my early MS floating around, too, but I don't think I'd save those unless I'd jotted something important in the margins.

I'd definitely recommend saving your e-drafts, though. I've gone back several times to pull a sentence or two from those , either to add it back in to the latest version or to apply the idea in a new story.

Good luck with the move!
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby jzweig » 17 May 2011, 10:16

Indeed, although most of them are digital copies since I've had critique partners online, I have hard copies of my WIPs from college that I keep in folders mark with the draft number, the date and who looked it over. Sometimes I reread them just for the comments though, I had one guy who made it a point to make his as hilarious as possible.

It helps to keep a perspective of where you, or the story, started as well as disregarded material that might not work now in this WIP that might work for another one later down the road.
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby HumorWriter0910 » 17 May 2011, 18:33

I don't tend to print drafts that often, but when I do, I keep them. When I finished my book, there was something special about actually holding it in my hands--even if I was just picking it up at FedEx Office.

The electronic files (trying out Scrivener now--it's pretty cool) are where I do the bulk of my work. That paper copy helps reminds me I'm a writer.
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby sierramcconnell » 18 May 2011, 11:25

I have this huge binder of all the past drafts of Chasing Miracles. I never look at it, but it's just there...staring at me from the hall as if to say...look at all this work. Look how tiny I was, and how monolithic I am now.

I want to set fire to it some days. Because its annoying as heck to know it'll probably never see the light of day, the evil bastard.
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Re: Do you keep your drafts?

Postby marta » 19 May 2011, 16:17

I make art out mine and sell them. The art sells better than my stories. Go figure.
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