Monday, January 11, 2016

A Handy-Dandy Do-Over Tip!


by Tracy Barrett

Like most authors, I do lots of rewriting (do-overs). I save the drafts so that if I make a change and then decide I preferred it the way it was before, or if I cut text and later realize that I want it after all, I have the older version to go back to for reference. I give the various drafts filenames like CurrentProject1.doc, CurrentProject2.doc, etc.

I sometimes wind up with multiple drafts of the same manuscript open as I work back and forth between them, and they often look practically identical. This means that more than once I’ve gotten confused about which is the current version and I accidentally wind up spending time working on a draft I’ve already discarded. I once even carefully applied editor-suggested changes to an early version and then sent it to her! (That was embarrassing.)

I’ve created an easy fix. Once I decide that CurrentProject3.doc needs enough changes to justify creating a new document, I go through these steps:

1.     Save CurrentProject3.doc as CurrentProject4.doc.
2.     Close CurrentProject4.doc.
3.     Open CurrentProject3.doc (the two documents are still identical except for the filename).
4.     Highlight the entire document by hitting Command-A (Mac) or Ctrl-A (PC).
5.     Change the font color of the entire document to red.
6.     Close CurrentProject3.doc and get to work on CurrentProject4.

Now whenever I open a discarded version, the red font is enough of a clue for even a work-addled brain that it’s not the current draft. If every discarded draft of every project is red, I know that the one I have to work on is black.

Simple, I know, but it’s saved me a lot of wasted effort!

12 comments:

  1. Oooh! This is super useful! I mostly use Scrivener for novel-writing now so I don't have a lot of Word drafts, but I do for essays and at work and this will be very helpful! Thank you!

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  2. That is handy! It's easier now, in this computer age, to color-code things.

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    1. Or you could make it a fancy font, or all italics, or bold . . .

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  3. Extremely helpful tip. I've been away from blogging for a while, all social media actually. My dad passed away in January and I've been taking care of my mom, but I found your article via the Twitterific links and I'm so glad I did. Thanks for the tip. I can't tell you how many times I've made the same mistake. I use scrivener now and I still find myself revising the wrong draft of a scene even though I clearly have it marked as the third draft etc. I hope that made sense. Seeing the full text of the document in red will put an end to it ever happening again. I'm delighted I found your blog and that I've connected with you on Twitter. It will be a while before I'm able to make a full return to social media, but I'm looking forward to more of your articles and to getting to know you.

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    1. So sorry about your dad, Melissa, and it's wonderful you can be there for your mom. I'm glad this tip will be helpful to you!

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  4. Ah, so clever yet so simple. It makes one say, 'Now why didn't I think of that?'
    Thanks for the tip! :)

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    1. You're welcome, Gloria--glad it's helpful!

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