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Fruitbat
02-02-2015, 03:40 AM
Wondering if anyone else does this... I had three rough drafts, two nonfiction and one fiction (one of them was from twenty years ago!) I'm not sure why I wandered off and left them in the first place. But one of my new year's resolutions was to finish them and it's lovely to have that low hanging fruit to pluck now, anyway. One is done, two to go! Does anyone else do things like this?

Maryn
02-02-2015, 04:18 AM
Not often, but yeah, mostly short stories I greatly improve, although there's still not a pro-paying market for the genre. Sigh... At least I get the satisfaction of finishing and making them better. I guess I did learn a thing or two in the last few decades.

(How's Florida?)

Maryn, traveling south in a few weeks

Motley
02-02-2015, 04:19 AM
Definitely!

I tend to work on more than one project at a time, and one usually elbows itself to the front of my attention. I have a lot of old drafts of things half done. I do have finished first drafts of things I have to go back to as well.

Maybe next year...

LJD
02-02-2015, 04:29 AM
I just finished the third draft of a novella I hadn't touched in a year. Also have a novel I stopped at 50k maybe 1.5 yrs ago, which I mean to go back to eventually. Nothing close to 20 yrs though...

Marlys
02-02-2015, 04:37 AM
Yeah, I have one WIP that's probably 3/4 or better complete. I could probably wrap it up in 4-6 chapters, but I'm not happy with the climax I've come up with. I tell myself I should just finish it, and either get some outside opinions, or get creative and come up with a new way to end things.

That's the only one that's near completion, but I do have others in various stages from planned to partially-written. I'll probably get back to them in time--very few of my finished drafts have been written from start to finish all the way through without another project intervening.

Scorecard so far:

1st begun - unfinished
2nd begun - finished 1st (published 1st)
3rd begun - finished 5th (still unpubbed)
4th begun - finished 2nd (still unpubbed)
5th begun - finished 4th (published 3rd)
6th begun -finished 3th (published 2nd)
7th begun - unfinished (this is the one nearly finished)
8th begun - unfinished (some chapters written)
9th begun - unfinished (planned out, barely started writing)
10th begun - finished 6th (current WIP--on 2nd draft)

As I was about to post this, I remembered two other projects that have been planned out and had some chapters written, but it would take too much time to figure out where to slot them in. One of them, at least, I might get back to...but the WIP is the first in a series, so I have 2-3 more novels ahead of any the unfinished projects.

Filigree
02-02-2015, 04:59 AM
I cycle back through old unsold manuscripts every so often, as my skills improve.

chompers
02-02-2015, 06:24 AM
I've got a total of 27 stories to be completed, 6 of which I'm actively working on right now, but the rest have been pushed to the back burner until I'm able to get to them. But I do intend to finish them all eventually.

Siri Kirpal
02-02-2015, 06:27 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Currently working on a novel I started in 2006. Then my life started to turn into the novel I was writing. Set it aside to edit and find a publisher for the Sikhism book, write a memoir, and begin a novel that's backstory for the one I didn't finish. Now working on it again.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Fruitbat
02-02-2015, 08:00 AM
I don't know what changed, here. I just suddenly thought, "Hey dummy, you have three books ready to clean up and they're done." Oops, now I better quit talking about it or I'll jinx myself and not get the other two done.

@Filigree- Maybe that's it exactly, my skills have improved to the point that how to clean up the drafts seems much more obvious than it once did.

@Maryn- Florida was great, thanks. We'll be home tomorrow. After not being there for over a month, it will almost seem like walking into somebody else's life. :)

Neegh
02-02-2015, 08:41 AM
I'm doing that now, on two old SFs: one is 15 years old and the other is 6 or 7 years old.

Layla Nahar
02-02-2015, 07:05 PM
Unless something pops into my head that says 'AH! that's the solution' I leave it alone. I have enough trouble writing my WIP - I better of not seeking more...

MarkEsq
02-02-2015, 07:11 PM
Revisiting, yes; rough draft... not so much.

About six years ago I was trying to get some agent attention with a mystery I wrote. Nothing. Nada. Not one positive response, even to the query.

Just before Xmas, I was on the phone with my agent and told her about the story, and she loved the concept. So... I'm now going back over it and making it respectable, with an eye to turning it into a new series. One thing: I changed the gender of the MC, and do you have any idea how irritating it is to keep changing 'his' to 'her' and 'he' to 'she'?? I'll tell you: very.

Jamesaritchie
02-02-2015, 07:18 PM
Well, I never write a rough draft. Never have. So, no.

gettingby
02-07-2015, 01:29 AM
I have gone back to short stories and rewritten them. Sometimes it takes times for your skills to catch up to your ideas.

atombaby
02-09-2015, 06:01 AM
I have so many old story ideas and drafts laying around in my virtual folders, but so little time to go back to them, though I would most certainly love to. Every few years I take a look at some of my ideas from over ten years ago and some of them are just so out there. I was so creative back then, what happened!

Kate Thornton
02-10-2015, 03:05 AM
I usually edit as I go, so no rough drafts, but I did find an old MS from years ago that never went out, so I re-read it and pulled a few good ideas out of it before ditching it. That's as close as I have come to re-writing an old rough draft.

kelliewallace
02-10-2015, 12:53 PM
I have old drafts I havent touched in years. One I put up on Fiction Press and a lot of people were commenting on how they liked it. Once I finish my latest list of books I might go back to it.

Jamesaritchie
02-10-2015, 07:17 PM
If I have a story, that story stays in submission until someone buys it, and sooner or later, they usually do, but only if they get the chance to read it. Many writers give up on stories far too soon.Sometimes it sells on the first submission, sometime son the thirtieth sometimes on the fiftieth. And sooner or later, if you keep it out there, some editor will tell you how to fix it.

If this never happens, if it goes through every possible market in the world without someone buying it, or telling you how to fix it, you're better off throwing it away than wasting time rewriting it when there are so many new stories to write.

Kylabelle
02-10-2015, 07:23 PM
James, if you hadn't changed your pronoun from "I" to "you" at the end of the first paragraph, that would be a great post. You're describing your process, which will not work for every other writer. Clearly, it works beautifully well for you, and so may work for some others. But writing is never one size fits all, no matter how comfy you are in the size you're wearing.

ZerosJourney
02-11-2015, 08:12 PM
One thing: I changed the gender of the MC, and do you have any idea how irritating it is to keep changing 'his' to 'her' and 'he' to 'she'?? I'll tell you: very.

Oh my gosh, yes. I had a manuscript that I not only switched from third to first person but also changed a major character's gender. That was a nightmare.

On the topic of old rough drafts, I don't usually go back to unfinished drafts. The ones I left unfinished I stopped for a reason. But I have gone back to old (completed) manuscripts and overhauled them (sometimes rewrote them entirely) once my skills had improved enough to see where I went wrong.

Jamesaritchie
02-12-2015, 07:22 PM
James, if you hadn't changed your pronoun from "I" to "you" at the end of the first paragraph, that would be a great post. You're describing your process, which will not work for every other writer. Clearly, it works beautifully well for you, and so may work for some others. But writing is never one size fits all, no matter how comfy you are in the size you're wearing.

Actually, I'm not describing my process, I'm describing Robert Heinlein's Rules For Writing, which are business rule that darned near every pro writer I ever talked to follows. They work. Writers who follw them without excuses almost always succeed to some degree. Writers who don't follow them almost always fail.

Even writers who have never heard of them almost always follow them with the story they break in with. http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm

Kylabelle
02-12-2015, 07:48 PM
Actually, I'm not describing my process, I'm describing Robert Heinlein's Rules For Writing, which are business rule that darned near every pro writer I ever talked to follows. They work. Writers who follw them without excuses almost always succeed to some degree. Writers who don't follow them almost always fail.

Even writers who have never heard of them almost always follow them with the story they break in with. http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm

Except that, according to this, Heinlein himself admitted that he did revise his work: http://pcwrede.com/heinleins-rules-for-writing-mostly/

Yes it's true that many people get hung up on revising and never get past that stage, or at least waste a lot of time and energy there when they could more productively be writing something else.

However, I say again that what works for you is fine and good and will not and does not work for everyone. This thread was started by a writer who is choosing to go back to some old, tabled drafts -- maybe it would be more easy to think of them that way rather than as "rough" -- and have another look. There is *nothing* wrong with doing that, and I wager many authors have found in their old, unsubmitted drafts items they've reworked and then published.

slhuang
02-12-2015, 08:48 PM
Actually, I'm not describing my process, I'm describing Robert Heinlein's Rules For Writing, which are business rule that darned near every pro writer I ever talked to follows. They work. Writers who follw them without excuses almost always succeed to some degree. Writers who don't follow them almost always fail.

Even writers who have never heard of them almost always follow them with the story they break in with. http://www.sfwriter.com/ow05.htm

(bold mine)

Huh, that's odd, because damn near every one I talk to or follow rewrites or revises to some degree.

Here's what a ten-second Google search turned up:

"Ultimate lesson: clinging to a first draft and resisting revision is a symptom of addiction — you may be huffing the smell coming off your own stink." -- Chuck Wendig (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/06/27/25-things-you-should-know-about-revising-and-rewriting/)

"The magic, for me, happens in the rewriting." -- Kameron Hurley (http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-words-dont-all-have-to-be-right-writing-and-rewriting/)

"I enjoy rewriting much more than I do first drafts. First drafts are really hard. Rewriting you’ve at least got something to work with." -- Robin Hobb (http://www.buzzfeed.com/danieldalton/purple-socks#.sgdDO5ozo)

"I had rough patches, where I struggled, and even a few periods where I was doing more rewriting than writing." -- George R.R. Martin (http://grrm.livejournal.com/217066.html#cutid1)

"Writing is rewriting, constantly rewriting. Today I think it takes me about four pages of writing to get one that I like." -- Elmore Leonard (http://frankswriting.blogspot.com/2013/12/blog-post.html)

Oh, and here are some more quotes my search found floating around that I couldn't find primary sources for but that Google brings up as being attributed to these writers:

"The first draft of anything is shit." -- Ernest Hemingway

"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." -- Terry Pratchett

"Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it." -- Michael Crichton

"You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page." -- Jodi Picoult

"Writing is rewriting." -- E.B. White


Heinlein's process may have worked for him, but he also wasn't God. A lot of working professionals rewrite or revise through multiple drafts.

nastyjman
02-12-2015, 09:00 PM
Bottom line, in regards to the plethora of writing processes and advise out there, the budding writer should experiment with all of them. Find out which one works for you, the one that makes you excited, the one that makes you look forward to writing and finishing your story.

slhuang
02-12-2015, 09:42 PM
Bottom line, in regards to the plethora of writing processes and advise out there, the budding writer should experiment with all of them. Find out which one works for you, the one that makes you excited, the one that makes you look forward to writing and finishing your story.

Yup, this.

Isilya
02-13-2015, 01:50 AM
Wondering if anyone else does this... I had three rough drafts, two nonfiction and one fiction (one of them was from twenty years ago!) I'm not sure why I wandered off and left them in the first place. But one of my new year's resolutions was to finish them and it's lovely to have that low hanging fruit to pluck now, anyway. One is done, two to go! Does anyone else do things like this?
I've done this with quite a few short story ideas, but only one novel.

The first novel I wrote had many of the usual problems: wrong starting spot, passive protagonists, cartoon villainy, plot holes you could fly a spaceship through, and, of course, terrible grammar.
On top of those problems, I realized the concept required bigger writing chops than I had. Into the drawer it went.

It's six years later and my skills have improved (Still in a long and bloody war with the forces of grammar). While it won't be the next book I write, I think I'm finally ready to add it to my 'Ideas to turn into Novels' list.

Jamesaritchie
02-13-2015, 07:46 PM
(bold mine)

Huh, that's odd, because damn near every one I talk to or follow rewrites or revises to some degree.

Here's what a ten-second Google search turned up:

"Ultimate lesson: clinging to a first draft and resisting revision is a symptom of addiction — you may be huffing the smell coming off your own stink." -- Chuck Wendig (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2011/06/27/25-things-you-should-know-about-revising-and-rewriting/)

"The magic, for me, happens in the rewriting." -- Kameron Hurley (http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-words-dont-all-have-to-be-right-writing-and-rewriting/)

"I enjoy rewriting much more than I do first drafts. First drafts are really hard. Rewriting you’ve at least got something to work with." -- Robin Hobb (http://www.buzzfeed.com/danieldalton/purple-socks#.sgdDO5ozo)

"I had rough patches, where I struggled, and even a few periods where I was doing more rewriting than writing." -- George R.R. Martin (http://grrm.livejournal.com/217066.html#cutid1)

"Writing is rewriting, constantly rewriting. Today I think it takes me about four pages of writing to get one that I like." -- Elmore Leonard (http://frankswriting.blogspot.com/2013/12/blog-post.html)

Oh, and here are some more quotes my search found floating around that I couldn't find primary sources for but that Google brings up as being attributed to these writers:

"The first draft of anything is shit." -- Ernest Hemingway

"The first draft is just you telling yourself the story." -- Terry Pratchett

"Books aren't written - they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it." -- Michael Crichton

"You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page." -- Jodi Picoult

"Writing is rewriting." -- E.B. White


Heinlein's process may have worked for him, but he also wasn't God. A lot of working professionals rewrite or revise through multiple drafts.

Did you even read everything on that link? It sure doesn't sound like it. Nowhere does it say not to rewrite or revise. In fact, it says the opposite. But there comes a point where you need to STOP rewriting and revising, put the story into submission, and keep it there.

Everyone I know rewrites or revises to some degree. So did Heinlein. I rewrite/revise/edit every page up to twenty or more times.

Despite this, sooner or later, it's time to stop messing around, and get on to the next story. As Robert j. Sawyer says on that link, you can't endlessly tinker, and too many do this. Get the story written, get it rewritten and revised and edited, and then leave it the hell alone and start another story.

Hemingway's advice is used by far too many writers who have not the faintest clue what he meant, and don't bother finding out. His first drafts were written better than most writer's twentieth drafts, but they were never the way he wanted them in the sense of theme, so he rewrote most drastically. Good. If yours need rewritten, then rewrite them, but then put them into submission and leave them alone.

If you don't, you'll be one more writer who fails and drops out of the race. Most of those writers you list are, in fact, firm believers in Heinlein's Rules. Hemingway came along too soon, but like most successful writer, he followed them pretty much to the letter, even though he'd never heard of them.

The simple fact is, Sawyer is dead right. Half of all writers fall out on each of those five rules,. It's no coincidence that the number of writer remaining after rule five is also the same percentage as successful writer out of any hundred picked at random.

When and if you sell something, you will write it, you will finish it, you will get it to where you want it, you will put it in submission, and you leave it there until it sells.

So why not do this intentionally with every story?

There should be no rough drafts lying around because you should finish everything you write, which ,means polishing it until it shines. Then you should submit it, forget it, and move on to the next story, which is where we all learn how to do what matters, which is tell the right story.

Kylabelle
02-13-2015, 08:06 PM
Well, I never write a rough draft. Never have. So, no.

Well, thanks for clarifying, James. Your earlier post which I'm quoting here gave a different impression, at least to some of us. I think we're tussling over semantics, at this point, but saying you never write a rough draft does imply you never need to polish, tighten, rewrite, revise.... Instead what I now take you to mean is that you intend never to leave anything you write in the *first* draft stage.

As for the rules, Rule number three does say quite clearly, refrain from rewriting. So, that's another place where we're missing each other. Refrain means don't do it. But yet, we all do it! Including you, up to twenty times a story.

The rule ought to say, don't get stuck there. But that isn't what it says. (And Sawyer amends it also in the article you linked.)

chompers
02-13-2015, 08:13 PM
I think there's a difference between revising and rewriting.