Do You Ever Save Earlier Drafts?

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

I’ve been toying with the idea of saving earlier drafts of stories I write. It’s an opportunity to take a look at how I draft a story, and a look at how ideas change over time. Of course, there’s an unhealthy side of this: part of me always likes looking at my mistakes.

With other media, people get a chance to look behind the scenes and see what goes into making that thing work. Movies have extra features, TV shows do the same, and there are plenty of documentaries detailing other work. Writing doesn’t get that treatment, because the magic happens with fingers hacking away at a keyboard or with a ink-splattered hand scribbling across paper. Well, not the latter for me, because nobody can read my handwriting – including me.

Good writing involves cultivating those serendipitous moments into a coherent whole. Nobody gets to see it happening before their eyes, which is a shame. Even when I’m writing, sometimes it takes me going back over a passage to really appreciate what I’ve got. The closest I’ll ever get is to compare an earlier draft with a later one, but that still quite doesn’t capture the magic of telling a story.

Still, I wish I had the presence of mind to save some earlier drafts that I liked but ended up not going with. I think if people truly realized some of the stuff writers go through in delivering a story, they might get appreciated more. Or maybe it’s just a chance to share more than what’s on the page.

What do you think?

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2 thoughts on “Do You Ever Save Earlier Drafts?

  1. I’m only just writing my first novel so I have no experience of this, but I plan to save a copy of my first draft so I can look back at the changes I choose to make. I’m also worried I might cut something I regret!

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  2. This is just me, but I always save each draft of everything, whether it be a book-in-progress or a blog post. There’s a reason why you originally structured something in the way that you did, but that reason may not be clear until another experience in your life helps clarify what you were trying to say. There have been times when I have resurrected a passage from an earlier draft because I have since figured out how to make it work…

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