Thousand Roads

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

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.

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...)

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

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!

rayquaza-mega

Negrek Admin

Website: Thousand Roads

@Butterfree

Yup, people always seemed pretty entertained by the shiny chance on your guestbook, so I thought I would play around a little more with what I might be able to do with the CAPTCHA 'mon. Apparently at least Eifie has gotten sucked into clicking through until she got one she liked...

@Phoenixsong

Thanks, glad you like the layout! I'm still not really sure about the color scheme myself, heh. It kind of went a different direction than I was expecting.

And oh dear, it seems like you've figured out my nefarious plan for getting articles written. :P Yes, various posts I've made (mostly at Serebii) will serve as the basis for a lot of them. In many cases I want to expand on the things I've said in them, but in the case of "show, don't tell," yeah, that one shouldn't require too much additional work. :P

rayquaza-mega

Negrek Admin

Website: Thousand Roads

@Eifie:

lol nice. Sorry it didn't quite work out for you, but I enjoyed reading about your nefarious plan 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.)

frogadier

Phoenixsong

Website: Altered Origin

Very nice, and congratulations on the revamp! I like the new layout; the color scheme is very pretty.

Looking forward to the rest of your articles, although I do wonder... surely you've written enough lengthy posts about "show, don't tell" that it'd just be a small matter of editing to have a page ready to go for the site? ;)

zorua

Eifie

You have no idea how many times I clicked that refresh button so that I could get a Slugma beside my name and post as Negrek just saying "hi im negrek" because I thought it would be a funny joke. (Several hundred, for sure. I was very bored on the bus.)

I'd just given up and was just idly clicking to get a Pokémon I liked before posting and I PASSED A SLUGMA. UGH. I guess this one is fitting, too.

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