Daily Dojo

Keeping Drafts

Following up on yesterday’s post about ACTIVE, COMPLETED and DONE versions of the scripts (there is no real DONE, btw, it’s an ideal that one reaches for cannot ever really reach, it’s zen, baby) I also wanted to mention this.

Keep all your drafts.

That means when you complete your rough draft, save it and rename it (rewrite 1, for example) so that you have that documented … and then follow through with all your subsequent drafts.

So the folder might look like thus:

BallboysfromhellNOTES.doc
Ballboysfromhelloutline.doc
BALLBOYS FROM HELLroughdraft.fdr
Ballboysfromhell1.fdr
Ballboysfromhell2.fdr
Ballboysfromhell3.fdr
Ballboysfromhell4.fdr

And so on (to be clear, there is no above script, so if you like the title and want to write Ballboys From Hell, be my guest) so that you have each draft saved as a separate doc.

I do this with everything, I average about 10 drafts per script (one has close to forty*) before I show it.

I don’t rename / resave the draft if I’m just making a small change, i.e. a spellcheck, etc. But if I’m doing significant cutting or rewriting, it becomes a new draft.

It’s important because then I can go back and recall how I got from point A to B once I get a readable draft done … I’ve learned A LOT just from going back and rereading old drafts** (sometimes cringing with early work) because I know more now than I did then and can see it more clearly.

It helps me to also understand my own process … and make no mistake, we all have our own process, it’s an evolving thing, true, but it’s also individualistic and it’s good to know how it works and how it has grown. I’ve learn much from this, for what it’s worth, and wanted to share.

If you have just one draft that you’re constantly rewriting and saving as only that one document, it’s harder to see the path you’ve taken (and what if you want to go back to something that was cut?) and saving all your drafts is the best way.

Plus it’s a great measure for your own progress.

That is all.

FOOTIES:

*In a couple cases, I wrote one script, complete with multiple drafts, threw it out for reasons best not gone into at this moment, and wrote an entirely NEW script spurred by the old … and the old script stays in that new script folder, so I know how I got there. My personal script library may seem like John Cusack’s record collection in High Fidelity, at times. To find Script A, I have to remember that I wrote Script B as a reaction to it, etc.

** Every time I send out a script, I proof it. If it’s a year or so old, or a script I haven’t looked at in awhile (let’s say a year) I proof it and nearly always give it a polish (resaved and redated as a draft) simply because I’m a better writer at this point than I was the year or so previous when it was written, and therefore always find something I can improve upon. This way, everything is as current as it can be, and I better understand how I’ve progressed, which is nice. Of course, I only know what I know now, and a year from now I’ll likely be slapping my forehead going “D’oh!” over something writ today.

It’s why I’ve said, there is a DONE, but you’ll can’t really reach it, you can only enjoy the journey.

One Response to “ Keeping Drafts”

  1. Christina Says:

    At the end of each writing day, I save whatever I’m working on with a date in the title, like “Rom Com 20100624.fdr” and then send a copy in email for my mother to read. She reads it, never says anything negative (the perfect “in progress” draft reader) and I have a copy saved in email in case my computer explodes. The next day, I copy the previous day’s file and rename it, and start again. I finished a new script on June 15th, looking at the files I can see it took 27 days spread over 10 weeks to get that first draft done. (I was working on other projects on the other days.) Sounds like our systems for keeping drafts and such are equally complex. I save everything!

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