Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Recycling or Trash?


I'm a bit of a tree hugger. I recycle everything I can and try hard to reduce the items I use in the first place. But in my writing? Not so much.

I'm not an outliner. I have a vision for my ending, a vision for my beginning and no idea how I'll get from one to the other. This generally means a messy first draft and a lot of rewrites. I go through my draft several times - each time looking for something else. First = plot holes, 2nd = scene order, ...

I keep each version under a new file: Title 1, Title 2, Title 3... That way I know which version is the most recent. In the back of my mind is the worry that if I delete, I'll want something from that previous draft.

So far, it's a worthless worry. I've never gone back. I know each draft is stronger than the previous. If I deleted something it was for a dang good reason. I haven't recycled a single scene, or even a word. But what if I've deleted something magical by mistake, something I can springboard into a shiny new idea? Yikes!

So, I'm curious, do you recycle your deleted writing from your previous drafts? Are you brave enough to trash it all or do you keep it just in case...?

***

On another note, thanks so much to Michael over at In Time... for awarding me the Stylish Blogger Award.


Thanks Michael!! I appreciate it! :) If you haven't checked out his blog, hop on over - you won't regret it!

115 comments:

  1. I am with you, when it's gone, it's gone. The words were deleted for a dang good reason, I say with a smile.

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  2. Terra - you're right - but I'm still terrified to hit the delete key! Maybe once I've got more experience it'll get easier :)

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  3. I've deleted pages at a time, but only if I look at it and my nose is scrunched up the whole time. Then I know it's not worth keeping. But I've never deleted a draft of anything. That's terrifying!!

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  4. Julie - you're so brave! I'm terrified to delete. It's okay as long as I know I'm keeping it in an old file, but not if it's gone forever! One of these days...

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  5. Jemi, I never delete a draft - ever. Even though Return the Heart is published I still have every draft. And believe me there are many drafts. :) Just can't let them got, either.

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  6. Oops, I meant I just can't let them go! Those pesky typos... :)

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  7. I can't bring myself to do it. It would probably cause me physical pain to delete a draft.

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  8. TK - so glad to hear I'm not alone in this! I'm feeling a little less cowardly now! :)

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  9. Sharde - exactly! I think hitting that button would be very painful! Even if I never look at them, it's good to know they're there!

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  10. I now have another document open... and I call it 'cut pieces from ...' just incase.

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  11. Michelle - that's a great idea! I'll have to do that one too! :)

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  12. I used to keep more than I do now, but I still save some things - just in case! :-)

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  13. I might recycle printed versions, but old drafts stay on my computer or flash drive. They'll come in handy someday, when I'm talking to students or groups about how my writing evolves. I know it helped in my own classrooms when I was able to show that even grown-ups rewrite, over and over, until they get it right.

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  14. Shannon - it's that 'just in case' that gets me every time. I'm a delete coward!

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  15. Kathryn - that's brilliant! I love that idea. I haven't told my students (or many others!) that I write yet - but once I do, I'll adopt this idea! Thanks :)

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  16. I have a very full JUNKYARD of deleted scenes that I can use for future books. I'm working on my next two WIPS and am constantly pilfering scenes from the JUNKYARD. Saves a lot of time.

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  17. Can't do it. Some things end up on the cutting room floor to be swept away, but old versions get stored in the old versions folder. And then there's that running file of stuff I need to find a home for. I think it's like Stephen's JUNKYARD. Good stuff I know I can use somewhere.

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  18. I keep it all, but I never use it. Okay, that's not true- I've reused one scene, but it got changed so much I think I might have kept half a sentence by the time I was done editing.

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  19. I keep it all. What I might do is burn it onto a disk and store it, This frees up my memory.

    Michael

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  20. Actually, you make a good point. I just tend to revise in the original text and not save earlier texts. I periodically e-mail copies to myself and save them to a secondary source. But I should track the progression of changes.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

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  21. Oooh good question! I save several versions, but not ALL of them to be honest. I agree, I know each subsequent one is better, and I've become a fan of using the editor in Word, then re-read all the red before I accept the changes. Still if it's a major change, I save. Usually I end up with about four drafts vs. the million I'd have otherwise.

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  22. Oh I play around with it for a while then bin it. Who knows what new lines I could come up with if I just let myself be free enough to try again

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  23. I am terrible I have many gigabytes of backups of my writing.
    I can load up almost every draft of every chapter of my books.

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  24. Congrats on the award, I recycle most things, I think it's most important .

    Have a lovely day.

    Yvonne.

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  25. When it comes to old drafts, I am a horder. At least I've stopped printing them out... But no, I have never gone back into an old draft to pluck something back out. There are times where I've trimmed something out and then written it back in. However, in these cases, the new version is much more streamlined and effective. I don't think I could slip in the old stuff and make it work. As you say, cut for a reason!

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  26. Well, it depends. If the words represent another *direction* the story could have gone in, I keep the scenes in another Word file. But if it's just something extra or sort of pointless, then it's gone.

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  27. I do almost exactly what you do. I rename each draft, and have a 'just in case' file that I pop things into as I cut them. I've never been back to it, but I think it helps me kill my darlings a little easier if I'm just putting them somewhere else, instead of hitting delete forever.

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  28. Stephen - I wonder if I'll ever use anything from my scenes. That's my worry if I delete things - that I'll want them later. Love your name of junkyard for them :)

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  29. Linda - glad to know other people hang on to their stuff too! I've never thought of making a file for some of the more useful cuts - I'll have to start that! :)

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  30. Stephanie - sounds like we do things pretty much the same way! I love that you did manage to use one of the scenes anyway :)

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  31. Michael - I've never thought to burn it on a disk - but I have put everything on an external hard drive :)

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  32. Lee - thanks! I am so paranoid about making things worse with my changes that I keep it all. I'm getting more confident as I do this more, but I still worry!

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  33. Lisa - I still have to figure out how to use the editor program - I just haven't had the time to sit down and try it! Thanks for the reminder - that way I won't have the million copies! :)

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  34. Jarmara - you're so brave!! I'm getting much better at not saving the little changes - just the more major things.

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  35. Al - sounds like me! I have to go through and delete things one day if it threatens to fill up my memory! :)

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  36. Yvonne - thanks! Recycling is really so important - we have to work on fixing our world! :)

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  37. Jean - exactly! I can't imagine using most of the things I've cut. Although if it was the idea of the scene that didn't work - that same idea might work in something else. But I'd probably just rewrite like you say!

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  38. Elizabeth - that's a good point. I don't save the slashing versions any more! The major plot hole changes I definitely keep! :)

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  39. Amie - great point! Killing the darlings sure isn't easy - hoping to recycle is much easier! :)

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  40. I usually keep it, but probably don't need to!

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  41. Oh I always keep my "edited out writing" just in case!!!! Sometimes to remind me just how bad it was and why I had to cut it out! LOL!!!

    I'm all for recycling and hugging trees!! Yay for you!! Take care
    x

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  42. I rarely revisit old drafts. I guess I feel confident that the writing gets better. :)

    Yay on your recycling!

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  43. i don't recycle my writing. never even thought about it, really. my stories are too different and each draft only gets better :)

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  44. In the past.. I trashed it all.. and I've seriously lamented over it. But I've learned.

    I don't do that anymore.

    Like you, I now save everything and re-title :D

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  45. I have unfinished first drafts I'd like to finish or use in a different piece, but in general I don't recycle either. Maybe some day I'll like something so much that I'll set it apart in a writing recycle bin? That'd be interesting.

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  46. I trash, hit the delete key. I'd rather not have the choice of changing my mind!

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  47. You reminded me of something a prof. once told me--don't be married to your words--they don't always fit in your piece. I've been unafraid to delete every since. We all have our writing-OCD stuff don't we.

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  48. I never delete anything. Ever. One never knows when those seeds of an idea may come in handy :)

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  49. I guess I do both. Normally, I delete the old copies from Word or just update and save over the same copy. But I'm paranoid about having my hard drive crash so I periodically e-mail myself drafts of my manuscript. So I guess I could go back to an old one anytime.

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  50. I have never (and will never) permanently deleted any of my writing. I figure if nothing else, they'll be future entertainment when I need a laugh. I like a lot of my deleted scenes, and may one day use a snippet for a spring board on a SNI.

    I don't outline either. And, yes, it takes many more drafts to mold it into what I want it to be. *sigh*

    Congrats on your well deserved award, Jemi. :)

    And, I'm a tree hugger, too.

    Love,
    Lola

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  52. I've been a keen recycler for so long I think in green. I do the in-depth kind of planning... been known to visualise a scene for days before writing it (over-keen, I know) I have the post-it note "Raise the Stakes" over the computer screen. I have to leave the ms for a month before I can see beyond the words - gotta love Betas. :)

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  53. I keep different drafts of my story as well. I've yet to go back, and I delete them when the book is published, but while I'm in the creating stage having those drafts is somehow comforting. Great post!

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  54. Laura - you're right - we probably don't need to keep it - but I still hang on to them! :)

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  55. Old Kitty - it would be fun to go have a look at the firsts and see how far we've come! :)

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  56. Teresa - I don't go back and read yet either - but I often wonder if I should - if maybe I've lost something good. But probably not!

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  57. Amie - I agree! Each draft does get better. I worry about ignoring something that might work in another story, but like you, most of my stories are quite different!

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  58. Writing Nut - I do like having everything there - although I really don't know if I'll ever go back & look at it. Comes from being a pack rat I guess! :)

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  59. Mari - you're right - that would be a good idea. Most of it I'm glad I cut, but maybe I should keep some basic ideas for new stories! :)

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  60. Lynn - you're so brave!!! I'm impressed - not sure I'll ever have that much courage :)

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  61. Heidi - that's good advice from the prof! :) And, yup, we all have OCD writing tendencies! At least I know I sure do! :)

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  62. Wendy - Me too. Although I've never actually used anything I've deleted. Don't know if I ever will! :)

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  63. Theresa - I email drafts to myself as well - and I use an external hard drive :)

    I'll delete when I'm in 'slash & burn' stage, but not for plot holes!

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  64. Lola - it's like we're twins! :) Next time I'm feeling down I'll have a look back. When I see how far I've come it should make me feel better! :)

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  65. Elaine - I'm always envious of outliners - but I like being a pantster at the same time. It's so much fun to not know what's going to happen until I touch the keys! :)

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  66. I keep it. It more so I can go back and read though the various stages and see proof that it IS getting better.

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  67. Holly - that's a good idea! I've never read through it - maybe I should. I do remember my first chapter from a previous ms. I cut it completely and the first part of the next chapter too. Total backstory!

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  68. Congrats on the award!

    At home I'm a devoted recycler but not a hoarder. In my writing I'm both. In fact, I just recycled a scene cut from my last project for my new WIP. I save EVERYTHING I write, just in case. In case of what, I'm not sure. :)

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  69. VR - love it! I haven't used anything yet, but I like the fact that you did - it gives me hope! :)

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  70. Sometimes I keep my deleted scenes in another document. Sometimes it just helps me figure out the back story.

    I tend to outline write, and fill in the parts later, which means I insert more than I delete!

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  71. I might have a printed copy with tons of marks on it, but I make all corrections directly into the manuscript into the computer. So there's only one version in there at a time.

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  72. Aubrie - I've done that too! My first wip was loaded with backstory - I think I cut out a billion words of it!

    I can't even imagine outline writing! That might make my brain melt! :)

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  73. Alex - yikes! I've only printed out 1 ms 1 time so I don't have of those notes. I do pretty much everything on the computer. Can't imagine just deleting it all - you're brave!

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  74. You are much braver than I. I keep deleted stuff in a file called something like "Discarded."

    I'm so glad computers were invented so I don't have to type and can print out only when I'm ready to do the read-through on print.

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  75. Helen - I'm so glad as well. I've only printed out one copy - and that was when I thought it was ready to go. I've since discovered a major issue that needs fixing :)

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  76. I save everything. Just in case, you know? :)

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  77. Janet - oh, I know!! I do the exact same thing!! :)

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  78. Oh, me! I totally do tis--make a new copy each time, make clip files for everything I cut so I can save it....and I never go back.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

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  79. Angela - I'm so glad I'm not alone!! :) I wonder if either of us will ever find any use for any of it!

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  80. writers who do not have a plan before beginning are usually the best of artists :) because art should come out of us like a river, not like some carefully schemed plan :) So, you have a big plus from me :)

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  81. If it's anything more than just a few sentences, I save it in another file. I worry about deleting it and then wanting it back, too. Sometimes I'll recyle them, but not very often. They typically sit gathering dust on my hard drive. But you never know!

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  82. Some of it I save, some of it I delete.

    CONGRATS on your award!

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  83. I'm a saver. I keep everything, just in case. But I never end up using it. I think it just makes me feel better to keep it. :)

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  84. Dezmond - thanks! What a wonderful observation! That's exactly how it feels when we're creating - love it! :)

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  85. Jessica - I've got a dusty hard drive too! I do like to hang on to things - too many things according to my hubby! :)

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  86. Susanne - thank you!! :)

    I save most of it - small changes here and there I don't worry about - but I usually slash more than that! :)

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  87. Shelley - exactly! I don't know if I'll ever go back and look - but I like having it there - gives me comfort! :)

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  88. I save every draft. Just because. I also pull out phrases that I like and keep them in a separate document...just in case I have use for them again.

    Thanks for stopping by the anon crit.

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  89. I always save my very first draft, but like you there are lots of changes along the way....I don't save them. I delete and go!

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  90. Hi, Jemi! I never throw any writing files away, but I really should do that. I know my husband would appreciate the extra space. I have recycled bits of writing when appropriate for a new story. Have a great weekend!

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  91. Whenever I cut things from a MS, I always put it in a file called BookTitle-Cuts.doc in case I want to use it again.

    So far, I've never used any ofit, but it makes it a heck of a lot easier to do the cuts if it doesn't just go off into the deletion ether.

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  92. Shannon - you're welcome!

    I like the idea of keeping a file of favourite phrases I've cut - I'm going to start one!!

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  93. Sharon - you're brave!! I'm trying to get there - and I am getting much better - but I'm going to need some prodding along the way!! :)

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  94. Thank Roxy! I'm lucky that I'm the only one on my laptop so I don't have to worry about anyone else's space! :) But I do have to worry about my own - eventually!

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  95. India - exactly! If I know it's not really gone forever, it's much more fun to make those slashes! :)

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  96. I'm with you - I save all the different versions. So far, I haven't gone back again. But I might eventually!

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  97. Talli - Yay - I'm not alone! I'm glad to hear it! Although I don't know if I'll ever use it either :)

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  98. Jemi, this post cracks me up because I do the exact same thing in the exact same way. New draft, new name. Old stuff still on file. I've never gone back and used it, either. I suppose it takes the sting or worry out of removing those words!

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  99. Julie - love it!! It really makes it easier to change and delete, doesn't it? :)

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  100. I occasionally use a line but not really I actually went back and read a first draft the other day and was AMAZED at the things that were in there, that I'd forgotten.

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  101. I have kept every draft. I have also opened another document as I'm editing in which to paste deleted passages just in case. But you know what? I've never put a single word back, and it's actually pretty painful to read those first drafts of that first manuscript so I don't do it anymore. But would I throw them away? Never. Someone else will have to do it after I'm long gone.

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  102. Alexa - I've never even used that! But if you've found cool stuff, it might be worth taking a look at my own! :)

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  103. Yvonne - that's probably what's going to happen with mine too - someone else will just toss them all after I'm gone :)

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  104. Hi, Jemi! Congrats on your award! :D

    I, for the most part, save deleted scenes. I think it would be WAY cool to read to fans once I become popular! *Yeah, I know, I can dream, right? ;0)

    ♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

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  105. Elizabeth - thanks! :)

    I like that idea!! And dreaming is good - it's what keeps us going after all! :)

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  106. I type right over mine, so I guess I'm brave!

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  107. Diane - you are brave!! I must admit I do this more now - most of the slashing and burn edits go right over the old draft. It's when I revising I make new drafts :)

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  108. I save all of my previous versions...so no worries here. :)

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  109. DL - that's good - although I wonder why I keep all of them - there's no way I'm going through all of that!

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  110. I am the same way! Learned a lot from your post and from all the comments! Thanks! :-)

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  111. Velvet - thanks so much! There's been lots of great advice given hasn't there? :)

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  112. Congrats on the award!

    I sometimes recycle things that were cut. It's usually a line I liked but had to cut because something else was taken from a draft, making it no longer fit. If I cut something because I didn't like it, though, it's gone.

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  113. Dawn - I'm getting braver in that department, but not brave enough yet! I think if I start a new file for good stuff, It'll be easier to reuse!

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  114. I delete a lot as I go along, but do keep a draft "just in case."

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  115. Buttercup - those 'just in case' feelings are what get me every time - total coward in this respect! :)

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