Thousand Roads

A Pokémon fansite dedicated to the creative side of the Pokémon fandom, especially fanfiction.

Rewrites Considered Harmful

Last Updated August 22 2015

Let's be honest: the first few chapters of your fanfic are horrible. You know this! These days you can look back on the awful, awful decisions you made when you were young and foolish--maybe a year ago now, maybe five--and cringe. How did you ever think it would be a good idea to give your protagonist a shiny Manaphy starter? Why did you set up that inane bit of lore about how your main character is able to talk to pokémon because of the special bracelet their dead mother gave them? How did it take you that long to learn how to spell "Gyarados?"

You don't know, but the problem, now that you're up to chapter thirty-whatever, is that those ridiculous newbie mistakes haven't gone away. They're still out there for the whole internet to see and laugh at. Worse, they're the first impression any new readers are going to get of your story. They'll laugh and back button out of there so hard their trackpad catches fire and tell all their friends about this hilarious badfic they found that has all these reviews, God, how are people such morons, and everyone will know what a terrible hack you are. Maybe you'll even get some self-righteous critic strutting into your review section to let you know just how disappointed they are that you ever thought those early chapters were a good idea. The embarrassment just doesn't stop.

Fortunately, you have one recourse: rewrite those chapters. Heck, forget just those chapters: you can rewrite the whole story! Not only can you fix all the wince-worthy stuff in the early going, you can patch that unsightly plot hole in chapter sixteen. You can even make some real structural changes, alter characterization, or take the plot down a completely different course now that you're not locked into poor decisions you made early on.

This is certainly all true, and you can start in on a rewrite. But me? I think you shouldn't, at least not if you hope to ever actually finish your fanfic.

First, let me get this out of the way: I'm not saying that going back and editing some of your story is a bad idea. Feel free to spruce up the first couple chapters. Retcon out that prophecy all you like. And please do find-replace "Gyrados" for me. What I'm talking about here is complete, start-from-scratch, do-it-over rewrites. These and quick revisions are very different beasts.

When you start over from scratch, you drop all obligation to continue working on the present iteration of your story. You'll be devoting all your time and energy to going back to the beginning rather than pushing through to the end of your current draft. On the other hand, if you just want to nip back and rewrite chapter one, you probably still intend to have chapter forty-whatever out in whatever you might consider a reasonable amount of time. Even doing a pattern of rewrite one, post one keeps you on track to cross the finish line at some point. It's the suspension of new work in favor of retreading old ground that's dangerous, not the act of polishing up your old prose in and of itself.

And why is doing a big rewrite such a dangerous thing? How does it prevent you from finishing? The most obvious, practical reason is that serious rewrites represent a huge investment of time and effort. Most long chapterfics take years to reach completion even if they're being written straight through. Let's say it'll take three years for you to plow through your epic, for example. If you decide to rewrite somewhere around the middle, you'll likely be looking at another year and a half of re-doing the first part--ignoring that rewrites are often slower than initial efforts, for reasons I'll go into later--plus the final 1.5 years to make it to the end. All said and done, you're looking at almost half a decade wrestling with your story. That's quite a marathon! The longer the writing process stretches, the more difficult it is to sustain enough motivation to carry the story forward, ignore the temptation to get wrapped up in other projects, and keep your interest in the tale alive.

But I think it's more than logistics that cause people difficulty with rewrites--and I do think they tend to be harder than writing straight through for the same amount of time. Rather, I think the issue with rewrites has more to do with the underlying cause of a lot of them: perfectionism. Most people aren't concerned with going back and doing a rewrite when they're racing through their current chapters. When the work's exciting, when the prose is really flowing, you don't have the desire to stop and look back. Why would you? What's up ahead is way more exciting, and so is the process of getting there.

On the other hand, when the way forward is murky, when you're struggling with a difficult chapter or a lack of motivation or any other of the many obstacles that trip writers up in the course of their work, that's when it's easy to consider turning back. You really want a break from your struggles with the story, and compared to the rocky, unfamiliar ground that lies ahead, those first few chapters are starting to look cozily familiar. You always wanted to fix that awful early dialogue, anyway, and now that you understand Natalie's personality better you can make her introduction really shine. If you hadn't set up that ridiculous situation midway through chapter fifteen, it would be a whole lot easier to resolve the dilemma you're facing now. And plus, doing a rewrite will be easy! You've already written this before, right? You know how it's supposed to go. And it'll come out so much better this time...

This is rewriting as escape, one of the most seductive outs offered on the long climb towards finishing a story. Finishing a chapterfic, even a relatively short one, is no mean feat. No matter how bright-eyed you are when you start it off, you'll hit doldrums somewhere along the way, and going back to rewriting on relatively familiar ground will look increasingly appealing. What's more sinister, rewriting is a virtuous-looking out: not only do you get out of a bind, but you improve the story in the process, do what everyone says you ought to: reflect on the criticism you've received, the mistakes you've made, and then go out and do something better. You get to feel like you're accomplishing something, when in fact you're stuck on a treadmill of rehashing the same ideas over and over.

Yes, the urge to rewrite can be very tempting. If you've made any substantial progress on your story, though, you already know that moving forward requires resisting temptation. The desire to drop everything and start a rewrite can be every bit as destructive as the desire to spend an evening on Netflix because it's an urge that often comes from a place of fear, and if you give in to that fear, your story is never going to get finished. It's the fear that what you're writing isn't good enough, or that what you've written isn't good enough, that people are going to hate your next chapter, hate the entire story, hate you and call you out on being a terrible writer.

There's nothing wrong with being worried about those sorts of things. It is scary to put your work out there for other people to read. It's admirable to "have standards" (a common perfectionist claim) and want your work to be the best it can be. Making edits and revisions is hardly an evil practice; generally speaking, it's a good habit to get into. But as with all good things, it's possible to take it too far--sometimes easy to take it too far. Doing a big story-wide revamp is usually going too far, and it's often less about actually making the story better than trying to satisfy your ego, to convince yourself that you're not just a writer, but a good writer.

This is where perfectionism comes into play. It carries with it the belief that, at some point, your work will be good enough, and that if you just do enough editing, you'll eventually reach it. Once you're satisfied with the quality of your prose, once you're feeling nice and comfortable and confident that you've done the best job possible, then you can go ahead and post your work.

The problem, of course, is that you're never going to be satisfied, especially not with your earlier work, e.g. the beginning of a long chapterfic. You'll always be able to go over it later and identify elements that don't jive. This is only natural, as your writing will tend to improve with practice, and if nothing else your tastes and interests will evolve over time. Thus, if you throw yourself into a rewrite, by the time the new version catches up to the original, the early chapters will probably look just as bad to you as the messy chapters that inspired the rewrite in the first place. And then what are you going to do? Start over again?

Posting a story is always going to involve some level of discomfort. You can never be certain how something will be received, and not knowing is scary. It's rare that you'll be able to put up a chapter that you feel is truly the best it could absolutely be, one that you're sure has no flaws. To move forward as a writer, you have to learn to make peace with that uncertainty, to embrace the fact that you're going to screw up sometimes--and that no amount of agonizing beforehand can ever prevent that. You aren't perfect, neither is your writing, and it's simply impossible to revise it to perfection. If you give in to the temptation to turn back, you're not only feeding a bad habit in letting your fear get in the way of your progress, but you're also setting yourself a stiff challenge. Revisions are no easier than producing new material, assuming they're more substantial than fixing some comma fail. If anything, they're probably more difficult: you feel additional pressure to produce something really good to justify the revision, and your expectations for your writing are higher now than when you went through these chapters the first time. And, of course, you're going to re-encounter the spells of motivation loss, uncertainty, and general writing blues that got you discouraged in the first place.

To some extent, I think people recognize this. There can be an element of self-sabotage in gearing up for a big rewrite. Some writers are simply putting off a tricky bit of story in the hopes that the next time around they'll be better prepared to handle it. Some may have a particularly exciting ending planned and be looking forward to writing it--but be as afraid of screwing it up as they are excited to share it. In these cases, there can be a psychological benefit to not finishing. As long as the material stays in your head, you can imagine it as perfect, can savor the anticipation and the expected reaction to the work. Indeed, the unwritten future is downright useful: you can pretend whatever you want about it. Readers questioning your mystery? Just wait and see, there's an explanation coming up! Critic doesn't like that character arc? Just wait and see! They get a lot of development in future chapters!

If you actually write to the end, there will eventually come a point where there are no future chapters, and readers will be able to judge only what made it onto the page, not the awesome vision in your imagination. You, too, will no longer be able to enjoy the unblemished excitement of what might be, in the face of what actually is. There's a great deal of satisfaction in being finished, of course, and real joy in being able to share the last piece of a project that you've poured so much effort into. But there's comfort in not finishing, too, in being perpetually in progress. Your story is familiar now, as is the process of working on it; it's been in your life for several years, maybe. You lose that upon finishing and gain an unwelcome visitor into the bargain, the nagging little question that haunts all writers who've just put the last nail in a story's coffin: "So, what next?"

In the end, while the reasons people cite for starting revamps are numerous, many ultimately come back to fear. Rewriting is a move that helps mitigate that fear, but it's also one that threatens to trap you in a cycle of retreading old ground. Every long-term creative endeavor requires courage to complete; it requires taking risks, pushing past dissatisfaction with your work, and forging ahead even when the desire to quit or go back is overwhelming. In the end, you'll need to make peace with any discomfort you have with your work and move ahead anyway. Remember that it's your ego that wants you to look good all the time, that wants you to do things perfectly, that aches for the recognition that you are not just a writer, but a good writer. The ego can never be satisfied. If perfect is the enemy of the good, perfectionism is the enemy of the good writer.

So: no revamps. What are you to do, then? If you want to spiff up your story but accept that a revamp is a bad idea and aren't satisfied by rolling revisions, I suggest doing a revision after you've published the full first version of your fic. If you're still interested in the story idea and feel compelled to take another swing at it, that's great! You've already accomplished the goal of getting through a complete fanfic; even if you do end up dropping your revision, you'll still have grown from that experience and be more prepared to see projects through in the future. The "post-posting rewrite" also has the advantage that you'll be able to consider your story as a whole when deciding how to change things around. Often the most important themes of your story only become obvious once you've reached the end, and going back through to bring them to the fore is a luxury you don't have when you're setting out to rewrite after getting only part of the way in.

What's probably most interesting to me is how universal the problem of rewrite fatigue is across creative disciplines. For example, the title of this essay is taken from an article discussing why it's a bad idea to do rewrites in software. Back in the days when fansites were a big part of the Pokémon fandom, it was well-recognized that a site "hiatus," where the webmaster would take everything offline while they redid their pages, was a good sign the site would never come back. I'm sure you've followed a fangame, comic, or other piece of creative work that went dark forever after the creator announced that they were starting a revamp. And in over a decade of reading fanfic, I've never seen a chapterfic that underwent a "from square one" revision that actually reached completion. Thus, whether or not you agree with me about why rewrites tend to kill fanfics, I think the anecdata make it clear that they do. It's not that big rewrites can't be done, but only that in practice they rarely work out well. You may be convinced you can beat the odds, and perhaps you can, I think it's worth at least taking a step back and considering exactly why you're so fired up about doing a rewrite. More often than not, I believe the correct decision is going to be to set those reasons aside, take a deep breath, and plunge ahead anyway.

whirlipede

Butterfree

Website: The Cave of Dragonflies

Incidentally, if you're interested in a conflicting data point, I never started any of my rewrites when I was having trouble continuing the story, as far as I can remember. The most dramatic one, when I hard-rebooted TQftL after chapter 36 of the UMR, happened right before a chapter I'd been planning and looking forward to for aaaaages by that point (the introduction of Spirit and the whole Chosen thing). I've definitely seen a lot of people do what you're describing, where they start a rewrite after having been stuck for a while, but for me it really was a snap decision that oh I really want to write the next chapter but let me just rewrite the whole thing real quick first because I just got a review reminding me how awful the early chapters are. (And to be fair, the previous time I rewrote I'd managed to rewrite all 32 chapters of the fic up to that point in the space of less than three months, so I really didn't expect it to take me that long to catch up again - of course, I gravely underestimated how much longer the way more extensive revisions I was making would take.)

In retrospect I'm very glad I rewrote up to the ILCOE, but also that I then pressed on from there rather than putting it on hold for the IALCOTN. Which, okay, probably involves some bias from the fact that I happen to know how things turned out in this particular possible world and can only imagine the others. But all in all I feel that without starting over for the ILCOE, I would probably have completed the story at a stage where there was nothing really worthwhile about it (this being long before I figured out the plot, of course), where it would just have ended up as a silly old shame good for nostalgic laughs but not much else. The ILCOE was that magical point where it managed to be, on some basic level, "good enough": still pretty childish and ridiculous, but something I wrote with enough care to be able to grow with it and build something I actually like out of it, that all in all doesn't feel like it was a waste of time, and that lots of other people manage to genuinely enjoy despite all the massive problems with it.

Meanwhile, I'm definitely glad I didn't throw it out for the IALCOTN, because yeah, then I probably would have just been stuck rewriting the same bits over and over forever and never actually completing the thing. You need to get to that good-enough zone, assuming you didn't start in it, and then stop. And that's the hard part: the good-enough zone doesn't feel good enough, it's just a tipping point where the diminishing returns of starting over stop being worth it.

(By the way, you should totally make it so that you can comment on individual pages, not just updates. That's probably actually possible on this presumably sensibly set up site, unlike mine.)

rayquaza-mega

Negrek Admin

Website: Thousand Roads

Of course! You certainly have more experience with rewrites than I do; I'm mostly just watching the process from the outside.

Incidentally, if you're interested in a conflicting data point, I never started any of my rewrites when I was having trouble continuing the story, as far as I can remember. The most dramatic one, when I hard-rebooted TQftL after chapter 36 of the UMR, happened right before a chapter I'd been planning and looking forward to for aaaaages by that point (the introduction of Spirit and the whole Chosen thing).

That is interesting! Is there any possibility you were kind of afraid of messing up the good part you'd been looking forward to? I tend to fuss a lot more over the chapters I'm really invested in, and when I'm fussing I'm more likely to reach for a distraction, and a negative review would be just the kind of thing to make me think about doing a revision as an excuse not to work more on what I was doing... Of course, it wouldn't have felt like that big of a decision if you were only expecting to invest a couple months in getting it done. Like the time when I thought it was totally only going to take me a few months to write the entirety of Clouded Sky, sob.

You need to get to that good-enough zone, assuming you didn't start in it, and then stop. And that's the hard part: the good-enough zone doesn't feel good enough, it's just a tipping point where the diminishing returns of starting over stop being worth it.

Yeah, the tricky thing is really to find that balance between a rewrite is going to be worthwhile and overall a positive thing, or whether it's going to set you back in the long term. I ended up axing quite a lot of this article, because long as it is now it was even more massive before, and I thought that it lacked focus. On the other hand, I think a bit of the nuance was lost with the cuts; as it is now I think it sounds a bit like "never ever do rewrites they will trap you forever and probably give you cancer," which is a bit extreme. One of the bits that I took out was a discussion of why I thought finishing stuff was so important, which pretty much boils down to opporunity cost: the longer you spend working on one particular idea, the less opportunity you have to work on any other ideas you might come across in the process. So in that respect, I guess the question would be if you had finished the pre-ILCOE (UMR?) version and ended up with a very silly, rather embarrassing piece of work, what would you have lost? If you were still invested in the idea of the story once you'd finished it and wanted to rewrite, you could have gone right ahead. On the other hand, you might have moved on to something else, which you might have ended up being even more proud of.

For comparison, you might consider Morphic. How do you feel about the way that turned out, relative to TQftL? If you'd gone back and redone it at the point where you realized it was going somewhere other than you intended (idk, chapter six or so?), it would have taken you much longer to complete, but it also would have probably been better. Do you regret not doing that? But then, TQftL is kind of a special project for you, if not a magnum-opus sort of thing then at least a story that's particularly dear to you, so I can see how you might feel differently about it than the various pieces you did write straight through, like the Scyther spin-offs.

Which isn't to say that you made a bad choice, since obviously you're very happy with the way things have gone and will end up with a piece of work that you're proud of. (And I look forward to being able to edit this article to go from "I've never seen a chapterfic that finished" to "I've only ever seen one chapterfic that finished.") In a vacuum, though, that's why I wouldn't encourage someone to do a rewrite: because I think you leave yourself more options by getting to the end of a draft and then deciding where you want to go from there. I think if it's something you're really passionate about and really want to see done well, you'll go ahead and rewrite anyway, and be able to do so with the benefit of knowing how the ending worked out, which I think allows you to go into the rewrite with a better sense of what you need to emphasize because you know what you're shooting for. But that's not the best route for everybody.... Probably it would have been better to structure the article in more of a pro/con sort of way, rather than the current incarnation, which is pretty much all "CON, CON, CON" the whole way through.

(By the way, you should totally make it so that you can comment on individual pages, not just updates. That's probably actually possible on this presumably sensibly set up site, unlike mine.)

Totally possible, yes! I guess I wasn't really sure what to expect in terms of comments, and I'm used to a comments-on-news kind of structure. For a comment like yours, though, it would be a shame for it to be relegated to the news post where people reading the article itself probably wouldn't discover it. However, as I only just finished the script that allows me to add admin comments (and sends e-mail comment notifications!), it's clearly going to take a little while to get things moved around, in particular because I think it would make the most sense to merge the guestbook code back into the main app rather than leaving it in a plug-in, argh. And then do I want to keep comments open on news posts, or make it exclusive to articles? Do I want to leave comments open on pages like the metronome generator? So many design decisions. =/ And already I long for comment threading, help.

Thanks for taking the time to write up such a thoughtful reply!

venonat

Butterfree

Website: The Cave of Dragonflies

Heh, I don't think I did a lot of fussing over my writing at all back then. Chapters I was looking forward to were just "yay I'm finally writing this part!", not "oh no I must do this part justice". It was a magical carefree time where taking a month to write a chapter warranted a "finally" and I regularly declared a chapter was great in my author's notes. Even when I considered my older work terrible, I had pretty absolute confidence in what I was writing at any given time -my taste hadn't really evolved much ahead of my actual skill yet, so I was pretty satisfied with what I produced. Fussing came later, when I started to really perceive a gap between what I wanted to convey and what I could actually put into words and feel endlessly like surely I'll figure out how to make this awesome if I just think very hard about it for a few more months.

I think Morphic was in the good-enough zone from the start. Which is to say, my God do those early chapters make me want to claw my eyes out and that is some of the wonkiest pacing/setup/lack thereof to ever wonk, but it's a story I'm 100% thrilled about having written that's overall enjoyable to lots of other people as it is nonetheless, and that's all it needs for the good-enough-to-finish stamp, in my view. It would have been better if I'd started it over in the middle, but writing it to the end from where it was gave me a far better idea of where it should go than if I'd dropped it for a rewrite then - I'm way better off having finished it and then (eventually) rewriting it afterwards.

Meanwhile, pre-HMMRCIG TQftL was heading towards my plans for it at the time, which were terrible. If I'd finished writing it the way I wrote then, with the plans I had then, I'd have ended up with a story that would have been, in retrospect, basically a waste of my time (well, except for whatever writing skill I'd managed to scrape out of it). Dropping it for a rewrite meant that 1) I didn't waste years finishing a story with no redeeming qualities, while also 2) the time I'd already spent on it retroactively became worth it, because the better story I wrote to replace it built on its foundations. It still carries lots of awkward baggage from the original, of course, but yet again, it only had to be good enough to make itself a worthwhile endeavor for me on the whole, which isn't a very high bar.

Of course, I didn't realize any of this at the time, and couldn't have even in theory since basically all the stuff that made it worth it later is stuff I had no inkling of back then, so really it's a happy accident that I managed to stumble my way into what I believe today was exactly the right amount of rewriting. My point here is less "My decision to rewrite was awesome and born of superior judgment" and more "In retrospect, it was definitely a good thing that I started it over that time". I mean, I do think a wiser author could look at a story, come to a rational decision that it's fundamentally unsalvageable in its current form (as opposed to merely horribly embarrassing, unrepresentative, badly written, etc.), and then start a rewrite that takes the story where it needs to go instead, but that's not what was happening when 2004-me dropped everything for the HMMRCIG. I'm just saying I'm ultimately happy with how things turned out.

It's possible that if I'd dropped/finished TQftL back in 2003, I would have had some amazing idea after it that I'd have written instead, sure. Would I love that story significantly more than I love TQftL today? I'm going to say probably not, even if it were objectively better. Given that, I have no regrets.

As for commenting, personally I'd ideally go with comments on news stories as well as articles (and posts not associated with any page), and probably allowing them on every page since although you'd expect the most thoughtful comments to be on articles, you never know what sort of commentary people might have on something like the Metronome generator. Seems easier than leaving them out conditionally, and doesn't exactly hurt.

(Also, I think you may be missing an error message if the CAPTCHA check has, presumably, expired? When I tried to post this, nothing happened and I just got a different Pokémon.)

rayquaza-mega

Negrek Admin

Website: Thousand Roads

Heh, I don't think I did a lot of fussing over my writing at all back then. Chapters I was looking forward to were just "yay I'm finally writing this part!", not "oh no I must do this part justice". It was a magical carefree time where taking a month to write a chapter warranted a "finally" and I regularly declared a chapter was great in my author's notes. Even when I considered my older work terrible, I had pretty absolute confidence in what I was writing at any given time -my taste hadn't really evolved much ahead of my actual skill yet, so I was pretty satisfied with what I produced.

Haha, fair enough, that makes sense. Maybe the sheer fact that you didn't even bother to question whether it was a good idea was a pretty good indicator that it was? Mostly this article is in response to people who are weighing the idea of doing a rewrite, and in their case perhaps the fact that they're doubting/weighing in the first place is the first indicator that it might not be a great move? If you're not fussing over your work, you probably aren't in a place that you're going to end up getting stuck on the rewrite, since you'll be prepared to just plow through that, too...

I remember those days, though, man. I used to be able to bang a chapter out in two hours, then upload it to FFN with maybe some cursory proofreading at best, and feel pretty damn awesome. Those were good times. (But they were not good chapters. :P)

It's possible that if I'd dropped/finished TQftL back in 2003, I would have had some amazing idea after it that I'd have written instead, sure. Would I love that story significantly more than I love TQftL today? I'm going to say probably not, even if it were objectively better. Given that, I have no regrets.

I gotcha. Since I don't have a large project along the lines of TQftL, I probably over-value moving on to new material. It was also interesting to read your views on your different stories, since I only have a reader's perspective on them. (I also agree that Morphic is "good enough," and actually I think it's kind of interesting how much better it is than most of the other stuff you wrote in 2007, no offense to the other stuff you wrote in 2007.)

Thanks again for weighing in on this. And like I said, I hope it didn't come across like I was saying "you made the WRONG DECISION you shouldn't have done that rewrite;" I just wanted to try to understand where you were coming from, since we have different perspectives on the issue. It definitely sounds like you made the best choice for your story, and I'm glad you feel good about it! ---So how are Chapter 66-69 edits coming along?---

(Also, I think you may be missing an error message if the CAPTCHA check has, presumably, expired? When I tried to post this, nothing happened and I just got a different Pokémon.)

Ohhh, Phoenixsong had that error, too, but she wasn't able to reproduce it. I bet you're right and it's the security token that's expiring (it's set to expire after an hour, if that helps decide if that was what happened to you?); I did not even realize that could happen and didn't include an error message for it.

(Also, bug: pressing Enter after typing the CAPTCHA refreshes the Pokémon rather than submitting the post, presumably because it acts like pressing the first submit button in the form.)

Yesss, that's a known bug that I was putting off fixing because it was more nuisance than critical, but it definitely is a nuisance. >>;

(Also, when I tried actually pressing the Post button with my mouse, I got a 500 error?)

After the CAPTCHA image switching instead of the submit? Hmm, haven't had THAT happen before. I'll investigate.

Whoops, looks like it submitted itself anyway. Sorry for the double post and my floundering "what is going on" parentheticals.

Not at all! Thanks so much for letting me know the problems you were having, and sorry for subjecting you to my awful half-baked code. I swear everything works great on my computer! D:

(Aaaaa I'm about to go on a vacation, too, not sure how much I'll be able to fix up before I take off...)

cubchoo

Butterfree

Website: The Cave of Dragonflies

Maybe the sheer fact that you didn't even bother to question whether it was a good idea was a pretty good indicator that it was?

Perhaps! I did think something like that when I was writing my original comment - that when you're in that sort of state of mind about your writing where you can churn out chapters at a breakneck pace with no hangups, rewriting is a lot less costly than when you deliberate over every word. The good-enough zone is probably not defined only by the story not needing rewriting as much, but also significantly by how much longer it'll probably take you to rewrite once you've achieved a certain level of competence.

I gotcha. Since I don't have a large project along the lines of TQftL, I probably over-value moving on to new material.

That or I'm a sentimental sap who over-values old stuff. :P I have a major tendency to be extremely attached to anything I've owned or worked on for a very long time, so I'm probably less enthused about doing something shiny and new than most people. (See also how most of my future fanfiction plans seem to be rewriting or continuing my existing completed stuff.) I don't really expect anyone else to see things the same way I do, but for me personally I'm quite happy to have been working on TQftL all this time rather than doing something else.

(I also agree that Morphic is "good enough," and actually I think it's kind of interesting how much better it is than most of the other stuff you wrote in 2007, no offense to the other stuff you wrote in 2007.)

Ahaha, I'm actually wayyyy more cringey about the early Morphic chapters than the QftL chapters I wrote around that time, or even earlier. I can't even properly tell you how I feel about their objective quality because I have this powerful physical aversion to even looking at them, so I've made, like, one attempt to reread them in the past five-plus years (but I spent most of that one attempt internally screaming at how exaggerated and fake everything was and being horrified I haven't gotten around to that rewrite yet). But that likely has something to do with the fact Morphic is a lot more adult and ambitious, which sort of sets a higher bar for a lot of things. I do think it's definitely better overall than anything else I was writing around that time.

And like I said, I hope it didn't come across like I was saying "you made the WRONG DECISION you shouldn't have done that rewrite;" I just wanted to try to understand where you were coming from, since we have different perspectives on the issue.

Oh, no, I didn't think so. If my comment came off as defensive, that's my bad. I'm not really even trying to persuade you of the validity of my rewrites, just musing on my personal experiences with and feelings about them.

So how are Chapter 66-69 edits coming along?

I haven't been working on them much lately, unfortunately - been busy with other stuff. So I'm still in a similar place of making some final edits to 66 and then getting on with 67.

Ohhh, Phoenixsong had that error, too, but she wasn't able to reproduce it. I bet you're right and it's the security token that's expiring (it's set to expire after an hour, if that helps decide if that was what happened to you?); I did not even realize that could happen and didn't include an error message for it.

It had been probably over 24 hours since I loaded the page, so yeah, it would definitely have expired.

parasect

txteclipse

Website: Enigmatic Crystal

I embarked on a complete, nothing-is-sacred, throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater rewrite of my longest fic last year. I hadn't worked on that story since 2010 or so, and in my mind it was, for all intents and purposes, dead. Like, really dead. But then I realized a lot of the characters and themes resonate with me more than anything else I've written, and I decided It Was Time. So I leaped in feet-first.

Now I'm at around the same word count as the original story and still going. Everything is so different! All my characters have changed, the plot's complexity has gone from "pretzel" to "bowl of spaghetti," and I'm having a blast. But in the back of my mind there's still that feeling that nothing I'm writing now is particularly better than before. I know it's not true (looking at one of my old chapters confirms that pretty quickly), but I know what it's like to succumb to writing drudgery and I don't want it to happen again, not with this story especially.

So I guess my response is "great article, I agree with it, but it also depends." I think in a case like mine where the story was pretty much dead anyway, a reboot can't hurt anything. Going back to work on earlier chapters while the story is still in progress, on the other hand? Probably not a good idea. If I've learned anything about writing over the years, it's that sometimes you just have to write.

rayquaza-mega

Negrek Admin

Website: Thousand Roads

Yeah, it would definitely be difficult to pick up where you left off on a 'fic that's been dormant for more than a year or so, I think; in that case a rewrite seems totally sensible, if you're still interested in the story itself and don't want to get back into it solely because you feel obligated to finish. Your style, and probably the ideas you have for the story as well, will have shifted so much that there would probably be a big disconnect between the earlier and later chapters even if you did decide to pick up where you left off rather than rewriting.

Good luck with your reboot! I'll be sure to check it out once it gets posted. Also, glad you liked the NaNoWriMon. (I really need to set up comment threading or something that makes it clearer what someone's responding to, aaarrgh...)

yveltal

&altaria Aria

Huh.. While I do feel like some stories are worth finishing, usually their rewrites are actually better. Longer chapters are one possibility. But then again, I wanted to know where the original plot was heading. Pros and Cons I guess. &altaria &gardevoir &lucario &vaporeon &ninetales &serperior

eevee

Aria

Oopss. The Pokemon sprites didn't appear. Oh well. altaria

rayquaza-mega

Negrek Admin

Website: Thousand Roads

Oh yeah, the rewrites are almost always better than the original story! There are exceptions, I do know some people who kind of compulsively rework things to the point that they aren't making any substantial improvements or are actively making the story worse, but I can't deny that most stories are going to improve on the rewrite. For me the issue is that they also tend to... peter off after a few chapters. I'd rather have a flawed but finished story over one that has a lot of promise but doesn't actually go anywhere, but that's definitely a matter of preference.

I see you figured out what was up with the sprites... They don't actually work in the username field at all, but you're not the first to try it. Not sure whether I want to enable that capability and potentially have people naming themselves a bunch of images, but it's not like it would be the end of the world, I suppose.

swablu

Umbramatic

Website: None

Ha, as someone who just started their first, intended-to-be-short chapterfic a couple months ago (and is having a bit of a rut with it due to a lot on my plate!) I really appreciate having this to prevent me from doing a total reboot! I know I get thar "aaagh cringe city I need to reboot this" feeling with some of my older oneshots, but those are already done at least and I only intend to fully reboot the oldest and cringiest at this point since I still manage to see good in even them. I hopefully can see the good in the early bits of my chaptered stories as well!

(Having to maintain continuity in a shared universe helps too.)

By the way, nice to stop by your website, Negrek.

  • Umbra &Hydreigon
rayquaza-mega

Negrek Admin

Website: Thousand Roads

Haha, glad it helped! And you're right, rewriting one-shots is a bit different... Once you have the finished product out in some form, you at least don't have to worry about giving up halfway through without seeing the story to the end.

Thanks for stopping by!

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