This feels like an embarrassing question.
I hear writers talk about all their drafts as they work to hone their story after edit after edit – and I wonder …. Do they keep all their different drafts? Really, I’m starting a fourth draft for one of my stories after having an editor and a few beta readers read over my third draft and I’m wondering what to do with my previous drafts. Given how easy it is to just write overtop of your first draft with your second, third and so forth – does anyone keep their original drafts or do they just take the electronic document and write over top of it again and again?
Right now, for this particular novel – I’m keeping all my previous drafts – well most of them. Draft 2 I started editing within that draft for half way through the story before taking a break and going back later to start a third separate draft. Having multiple drafts feel a little confusing, but given how much I’ve changed things – especially with my fourth draft I don’t want to get ride of for fear I may need to go back to a previous draft and pull up a scene once deleted but should be included again. Just trying to remember past scenes I’ve changed, deleted or just passed over is difficult so I’m glad I have an old drafts to go back to if necessary.
This is why I think this is an embarrassing question. It feels like many writers have old drafts around to keep track of what they’ve changed. But with today’s style of just deleting and re-typing have things changed?
This fourth draft has fallen to a snail’s pace. I’ve reached chapter 7 and hit a bit of a wall. I’ve taken out one of the secondary characters which has helped but this chapter doesn’t have a good flow in my mind in relation to scene structure. I’m not sure how to really fix it at the moment. I have the main goal of the chapter – which is achieved, but I think I’ve forced my character to stay in her previous characterization to leave feeling freaked out after confronting an evil spirit. Now in this new draft she is more confident and more in control of her choices. Given this change of my main characters personality, she wouldn’t just leave or run away. Maybe at first but after the walk from the haunted zone back to the headquarters she’d cooled off. So… now my chapters have really changed. This one chapter will really change the entire feel of the book I think. I’m not sure what that is yet so I’ve taken a break and tried to think of a better way to deal with the chapter and how it is affecting the rest of the book.
As I write my fourth draft, I feel I’ll be going back more to my original or second draft for help or to find old scenes that may help my novel get back on its feet. In the meantime any answers to my question, or suggestions how others deal with multiple drafts and where they keep the old ones would be great!