Posted by: steveonfilm | July 2, 2011

Officially a Second Draft

I’ve changed enough with my “polishing” of ‘The Prey’ that I’m considering what I end up with as a second draft.

The story itself isn’t changing. But I’ve changed up significantly how a few major beats play out. In addition, I’ve developed the tension and relationship between Kate and Eric a lot more.

I hit a point last night where I realized, “Wait… I’ve changed too much. This is a new draft.”

Why does any of this matter? I guess in the overall scheme of things it doesn’t. But keeping track of document versioning can be useful. And the easiest way to do that is with “drafts.”

While working through and revising what you’ve written things will change. Scene descriptions. Dialog. Action. All of it. You’re going to cut some stuff. You’re going to add some stuff in. And it’s important to be able to measure when these big shifts take place.

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes you’re going to cut something you’re unsure of. You might be on the fence of whether or not it’s the right move. Could be a story beat. Could be how a plot point turns. But it’s something significant. And you might be hesitant. At that point save a new copy of your file. Title it “draft #.” And move on with your change.

This way you’ve still got the old stuff. Forever. And you don’t have to worry about making a mistake. It provides you flexibility. And you won’t be scared to take chances or risks. Because if you don’t like it, or regret your decision, the other stuff is back in the other file just as you left it.

Keeping drafts gives you peace of mind. Who cares how many drafts you have. When you give your script to someone to read they won’t know what “draft” this is, or what you define as a draft.

But when you change something and save the file that old stuff is gone. You can’t get it back. Unless you have it in another file.

When you’re in the professional realm drafts will matter. There might be metrics or contractual obligations tied to them. But deal with that when it’s an actual issue for you. In the meantime your job is to become a better writer. The only “right” way to write is whatever way gets the job done. And if that means 37 drafts, so be it.

Until next time, keep writing!
-Steve

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