Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Perils of Revisions

Ok, so I thought of a great revision for one of my novels that would give me the opportunity to have a much better opening, plus would tie a major villain to my character. Because I still have a full manuscript out on submission, I made a copy of my manuscript before I made any changes.

And I proceeded to pepper the manuscript with changes. Too late, I realized that I should have turned on my "track changes" feature, but I gave a mental shrug. I resolved to find some sort of tool that will show the differences between two Word docs. (Surely such a thing exists.)

Then, on the way to work this morning, I realized that my great revision will not work. At least not without a lot of changes. More changes than I am willing to make, at this time, and changes that I'm not even certain will work in the long run. I'd hate to rewrite the novel backwards, then discover that it just ain't working.

So I'm glad I took that backup before I started. Have you ever done this?


  1. I did one major revision once, and like you, realized it was getting too complex. I took a chance and chucked the original and rewrote the story from the ground up.

    I'll be the first to admit it was a big risk, but it worked. I kept the original, just in case, but found I never referred to it again.

    Keeping a backup is a nice security blanket for me.

  2. I believe Word can compare two documents itself. I know in the new 2007 version, it's under Review/Compare. I'm still learning the 2007 version and finding all sorts of things in those ribbons. I'll see if I can locate the same function on my desktop, which has Word 2003.

    And yes, the backup is huge. Anytime I find myself making a major change I do a save as and call it a new draft number.

  3. P.S. I know I used it in prior versions of Word, just can't remember where it is exactly.

  4. In 2003, it's in the Windows menu, of all places. However, it only compares revisions. It doesn't mark differences, that I know of.

    I do know one way to mark differences--that is to merge one document into the other. I was thinking about doing that, but now I'm not going to bother.

  5. Oh goodness, yes. I've gotten so excited when I FINALLY find the solution to a problem place in a book that the reader will never figure out ahead of time. I'm giddy with excitement, then hours or a few days later I realize that it won't work. Dang it!!! So yep, I've been in your shoes. ; )

  6. Sleep . . . it does a writer's brain good!

  7. Yep, I've been there. I think a lot of writers have. Well, writers that are willing to go out on a limb, anyway.

    I think it's going out on those limbs that improves our craft. We're not afraid to try new things, even if it blows up in our faces. At least then we've learned what not to do. :) And maybe it points us in the direction of what we *should* be doing. :)

  8. I make several back up copies.

    If you want to see the differences between another docs in the future, I believe MS Word has a merge document feature that will show the areas that are different. It won't merge the changes unless you accept.

    As for revisions, sometimes it's so different there's hardly a word the same.

  9. Oh, I also wanted to add. The copy that you sent it - was it eletronic and a MS Word document? That serves as another backup copy!


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