Trying to Rewrite a Lost Story...

starrypawz

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So, a little while back I started writing a story for the sake of 'something to do' and well I quite liked what I was writing and thought 'hey, this may actually turn into a full story' so I decided to continue working on it.
And well, I had the classic problem that so many of us have hit, I lost it!
My most recent version has no backup anywhere as my memory stick basically imploded, and I may have accidently deleted the only backup I had.

So all 'I'm the world's biggest dumbass' aside I do have a version that's about 1/4 of what I've written. I'm trying to pick the story up from the point that I have and remember the general scenes that occur and a few snatches of what I wrote yet at the same time, it's really hard going to rewrite what I lost.

Has anyone got any tips on rewriting?

What doesn't help is the version I do have cuts off in the middle of a scene with dialouge, and I think that scene did get rewritten so I'm a bit stuck there.
 

Anne Lyle

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Urgh! That's very annoying!

Luckily I've never had to do this (I'm quite paranoid, backing up to several places - memory stick, webspace, etc) so all I can suggest is that you try to think yourself back into the story before you attempt to rewrite it. Sit (or lie!) down, close your eyes and reimagine the story as you originally wrote it - but try not to fall asleep ;)
 

The Judge

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I once had to re-write some very big amendments to a scene when I stupidly tried to be very clever at saving and cutting and pasting -- and ended up deleting the whole thing. I still had the original scene, fortunately, so it was just a question of immediately going through and making all the alterations again but that was horrendous enough and since then I have been paranoid about what buttons I press and in which order!

What helped me was doing it at once, so that the edits were all still very fresh in my memory despite their length, but that's not likely to help you here by the sound of it. The other thing which I clung to was the belief that no matter how good my original amendments were, the second round versions were undoubtedly better.

In addition, which is a little more like your situation, I have drafted a great number of scenes in my head which I have failed to write down and which are now largely lost, in that even if I remember the outline, I can't remember the obviously wonderful prose and scintillating dialogue. These I haven't so far tried to recreate. As and when I do, though, I shall try to re-envisage them as before and then work on them over and over -- and again, clinging to the knowledge that every time I re-write I improve.

So no tips other than get stuck into it as soon as you can, and then re-work it over and over and over, and be confident that this time round it will be even better than before. Oh -- and back up your work a lot!

Good luck!
 

starrypawz

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Thanks, I know the general plot I need to follow the one scene I'm hoping turns out well or better is there's a chase scene which when I wrote it I was very much in the 'flow' at the time and it turned out really well. I may skip over this awkward conversation bit though for a while and come back to it as I have totally forgotten what I wrote there.
 

Malloriel

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I went through this, losing the majority of a chapter I was quite proud of. There were sections where I thought the phrasing was just right, conjuring the right imagery and sensations for the reader. I was being fancy while transferring it from one computer to another, but in the transition the data was corrupted, and I hadn't saved a copy to the original computer, at least not further than the first few pages.

Devastated, because melodrama suits such situations, I held off on rewriting it immediately. I couldn't remember exactly what I'd said, and I'd liked that version so much, I didn't want to try to reproduce it exactly as it had been for fear that I'd think it not quite as good, even as I thought I could do better than the first go. Eventually, I eased into rewriting it, comfortable that I could take it in the same direction, and not worry about trying to recapture those details that had caught me up before.

Re-writing lost pieces isn't always easy, but it's worth it to try.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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I think that The Judge and Malloriel are giving you good advice. Rewrite it and feel confident that you are simply improving on what you had before.

Sometimes, I get so stuck on sentences, paragraphs, or ideas I really like that it can take me several rewrites to come to terms with the fact that for one reason or another they have to go for the sake of the whole. You may, by a fortuitous turn of events, have eliminated the necessity for a few rewrites of that same sort!
 

Chel

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As advice for the future, here's what I do to make sure I won't lose everything I've written:

I use my family as storage.... I email my husband, mother and brother stuff I want them to read and keep safe. If my computer dies on me or I click the wrong buttons or I misplace my memory stick, I can easily get most of it back.
 

gadgetmind

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I know it doesn't answer your question, but I use dropbox (google it). I have every version of my book from when I first started, and know that it's stored both on the dropbox servers and also on a few other machines that use the same dropbox account.

The free account doesn't keep every old version, but I also do daily/weekly/monthly snapshots to cover this.

Dunno if my book will be any good, but I know that I won't lose it!

BTW, I'm always happy to take a look at "dead" memory sticks and even hard disks for people if it's something REALLY important that's gone.

Ian
 

mosaix

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Commiserations.

My advice is to just start rewriting and try and forget what happened. After a while you'll become engrossed in what you are writing now and the whole process will start again.

The thing is, learn from the past , but don't get bogged down by it. :)

Good luck with the rewrite.
 

starrypawz

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Thanks for the tips, I did do the rewriting last night and got it all done. I suppose it's good that what I was working on at the time of it being lost was only about 3 word pages and wasn't say a 50 page epic saga or something.
I'm quite happy with how it turned out, but of course as I no longer have the original I can't work out what was the 'better' version, but that is something to think about later. But at least now I can progress onward with what I'm doing.
 

Malloriel

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I would disagree about "which is the better version" being something to think about later. The other version no longer exists, and so you can't really compare anything to it ever, and there's no sense in wondering if you've out done your previous work, or if it stands above the current one. Moving on and adding to what you've done is the best option. Turn your mind to the rest of your work, and not what could have been.
 

Liz Bent

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Here is a little story to make you feel better:

A friend was working on his Master's thesis in sociology at a university. He hadn't backed up six months worth of transcribed notes and writing. He went to get a cup of coffee, and five minutes later came back to his office to find his laptop- with his notes, and his thesis, six months of work- had been stolen.

Moral of the story: Back up often, and in many places. I find it useful to mail important documents to myself using a Gmail account- their servers have never lost anything of mine yet. I also regularly back up my hard drive.

I find that rewriting scenes is annoying, but often the rewritten scene is better than it was originally- it's as if the first scene I wrote was my first draft, and when I rewrite it, I'm writing the second draft. So cheer up, I am sure the rewrite is as good or better than the original.
 

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