Distinct drafters?

Hi all,

I’m nearing the end of my first draft of a novel. This is the first project I’ve use Scrivener for, and I’m looking for some input for usage suggestions from other people who treat drafts like I do:

I make very distinct drafts as opposed to going through the text and making updates. Normally I do this by actually printing out a draft, marking it up, and rewriting it from scratch while referring to the physical copy. I keep the previous draft open electronically for times when I want to cut and paste sections which don’t need to be changed.

I’m wondering if anyone worked this way before and has adopted the tools Scrivener provides to this sort of process.

There are a lot of Scrivener users that like to work that way (I count myself among them), and I think Scrivener’s tools make it exceptionally easy to do so. The ability to split the editor into two halves so that you can have your old revision on one side, with all of your markings in it, and a blank editor on the other side ready for the rewrite is like printing out paper, using a pen and then setting it beside your computer to rewrite. Or, if you really do need that tactile copy for the revision phase, you can still do so but still have the digital copy sitting there for easy copy and paste.

A good way to do a full reset without losing anything is to make a new top-level folder in your binder, call it “Draft One” or whatever, and then move everything in the Draft folder over to it. Now you can start building up your Draft folder again from scratch, using the original contents as your side-by-side reference.

This is much how I work as well (it depends, I’ll do inline edits for shorter things). I prefer to make markings as a distinct process from writing, and then go back and do a rewrite largely from scratch, but copy/pasting a fair bit as well. However I’ve gone completely digital these days and no longer use paper and pen for that phase. I use Scrivener’s annotation and marking tools for the job; I like inline annotations for most of this because I suppose I’m still a sucker for that red pen look. My variation on the above is that I very much prefer to use the Snapshot feature for this instead of a side-draft. What I do is keep the Draft as-is, but when I start going through sections, I take a snapshot, and then wipe out the text in the live editor. The advantages to working this way are mainly twofold: (a) the snapshot is immutable, and so is impervious to accidental keystrokes, but still there for selection, copy and paste. (b) the previous revisions are “hidden” beneath the current revision, keeping the Binder tidy and extremely clear. It’s obvious which copy is current, because all other copies are immutable snapshots beneath it. I never have to worry about checking the path of something to make sure I’m editing the right copy.

This is excellent! Thank you. I knew about the two pane editing, but I’ve never used either the annotations or the snapshot functionality. This sounds like a very appealing way to draft, and I am going to give it a shot rather than marking up a physical copy. Again, many thanks.

I do the same, but with the separate copy in the binder rather than with snapshots, at least for the first revision. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. I tend to have enough low-level changes to the structure that there’s not a one-to-one mapping of the original draft and the first major revision. (This is excluding little edits that I make when going through during the initial writing process, if I reread a scene and snip a bit here or there or small changes that I don’t quite count as “revising” because it’s not in that mark-it-up-and-overhaul-it mindset.) In some cases I think this might not matter too much, usually it’s much simpler for me to keep the revised skeleton separate from the original. This lets me easily compare the outlines and also more easily find things in the original, since I can rely on their synopsis rather than having to remember what overwrote a particular bit. It also prevents me accidentally deleting an original file because I had redone it as something else that I later decided was trash.

  2. Keeping a full copy lets me store the original synopsis and document notes for each item (keywords and custom meta-data too; I include timeline info in the meta-data, so that’s sometimes handy to reference). Again, just because I have such a huge overhaul of original structure to first revised structure, most of the original synopses are out the window, but they’re useful for being able to find bits and pieces in the original draft that I still want to keep or at least want to reference for the rewrite. Notes also, because I put all kinds of junk in notes, and I’m a total pack rat. There might be something of vital importance in there!

  3. Searches don’t work for snapshots, and I occasionally like to use this to sort through particular text references. The flipside of course is that you end up with a lot more stuff in your search results, unless you limit it to the draft. That doesn’t bother me, but I can see it could easily be annoying.

  4. I’m a pack rat. I think I mentioned that. :slight_smile:

I do take a snapshot of the whole original draft before I shuffle it down in the binder to be the “Draft One” folder, so it maintains that immutable status if I need it. And during a full draft revision (or the initial draft), I’ll use snapshots to redo a given scene, but I consider those as point changes. They don’t mess with the structure or the essence of the scene (typically), so all I need preserved there is my original text. Later revisions usually aren’t as massively destructive to the previous set up, so snapshots work for them as well. But for that first one, I wreak enough havoc to the initial draft that it can end up almost entirely unrecognisable.