Discussion Re-reading Your Work

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Idrelle_Miocovani, Feb 3, 2012.

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  1. Idrelle_Miocovani

    Idrelle_Miocovani Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Feb 5, 2005
    I'm currently re-reading one of my old incomplete fics because I finally have the inspiration to try to finish it. Unfortunately, it's been three years since I last worked on it, and while I have notes on what's supposed to happen next, I can't remember all of the fine details and foreshadowing I put in earlier. I decided I can't really finish this monster of an epic until I re-read everything, so I'm in the process of doing that... whilst taking notes, school-style, on it.

    It's an odd feeling.

    I'm excited to go through it (though the 767 page count is freaking me out a little - this is going to be a lengthy process before I finally get back to writing it). The more I read, the more I remember why I enjoyed writing it so much until I got too busy to continue. Though I'm also dreading it a little -- I know there are things that I would change, but I don't want to do a re-write. I had a very different writing style when I first started writing it and there are things (mostly phrasing and ways of setting up scenes rather than character or plot developments) that make me cringe.

    I get a similar feeling whenever I watch any video footage of myself acting or when I hear a recording of myself singing or speaking. I have an immediate desire to pounce on whatever I find unattractive about my work and fix it, even if there's nothing wrong with it. And it's just all a jumble of excited but embarrassed awkwardness that leaves me chuckling since I don't know what else to do. 8-}

    So, I'm wondering - what's your experience re-reading your work? Do you like to re-read your own stuff? Do you get the same enjoyment reading it as you do writing it?

    Or are we all overly self-critical? [face_laugh]
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  2. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    Overly self-critical, and that's because we're passionate about our work.

    Upon re-reading, my heart sinks. What I thought was 95% successful accomplishment degrades to 65%.

    But anyway, I do sometimes marvel at my stuff and think "darn, that's good" while I shudder at other parts.

    Hopefully all that shuddering will improve future works.

    I do reread highlights more than the entire story; sometimes I skim for foreshadowing or themes I wish to revisit.

    LLL likes this.
  3. LexiLupin

    LexiLupin Jedi Knight star 4

    Mar 27, 2011
    Yes, we're all probably overly self-critical.:p However...

    I'm split on the re-reading. On the one hand, I started writing when I was 12 or 13 maybe, so reading that earlier stuff is pretty horrifying. [face_laugh] On the other hand, I think it's kind of fun to see how ones own style has changed or improved over time. I wrote one story over the course of about three years, and went to college midway through that time, and the change in how I wrote towards the end is pretty noticeable, I think.

    In the end though, I do most re-reading intermingled with writing... going back, reminding myself of details, re-reading the prior chapter to get back in the flow of where my mind was going before starting on the next one. And I have done a lot of that lately because I've been on-and-off working in the same AU since April of last year, so there's been a lot of going back to verify details and whatnot.

    As for enjoyment... there are usually particular moments, climactic scenes and chapters that will draw my attention or I'll randomly get the urge to read over again. But for longer fics, I rarely sit down to carefully re-read the whole thing, just jump around to major parts. Ultimately when I re-read my own stuff though, its usually for a particular purpose beyond just for the fun of it. Usually.
  4. TrakNar

    TrakNar Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Apr 4, 2011
    I like to reread my old unfinished stuff in hopes that my muse will kick in and give me a new spin on it. That's why I'm letting my NaNo fic just sit idle. Some day, I'll pick it up and say "Hey, I know where I can take this!" and plunge headlong into it until completion.

    Sometimes, I come across my older stuff, and just read it for fun. I like to keep old stuff around to compare to my recent works to see how far I've grown as a writer. I'm not overly critical, and while I may look at an old fic and say "Hm, if I did this, then this could turn out interesting" and actually consider putting some work in it, I usually let most of my older stuff just sit unfinished. They're unfinished for a reason; some aspect was clearly not working or there simply was not a story to tell.

    Then... there's the stuff from high school. I read over that and cringe.
  5. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Sep 21, 2000
    I find myself re-reading what I am presently writing for fan fiction, at the time. I used too, when I first started out writing fanfiction, just put out whatever I had written at the time, and without paying much attention to what I was actually posting on the web site. Now that I have gotten a bit older, and that I now write much more steadily as a hobby, I very much like re-reading my own work, before and after I post it to the web site. I find it is the most simple way to ensure that what I'm writing makes sense to me. It also allows me another chance to see if I have any spelling mistakes, or if I should make any changes, or something could be explained in greater detail. I love re-reading my own work. I never usually go back to something that I've written for the sake of simply reading it, unless I'm planning a sequel to that story.
  6. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    I love re-reading my work and getting more ideas for plots and I see where the gentle comments have brought me when I see the older style of the first works. Most of those were inspired by Jude Watson's books and reading lots and lots of fanfiction about Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon.
  7. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    I get enjoyment out of all your works, Earlybird, but I admit you've gotten a lot more descriptive and flesh out your stories much more than in the past. There's much more to savor.

    If we take our earlier stuff and use it to improve ourselves, hey, it's all good.
  8. Briannakin

    Briannakin Grand Moff Darth Fanfic & Costuming/Props Manager star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 25, 2010
    I like re-reading my old stuff from time to time. Sure I cringe at some of the really baaad stuff, but it gives me a laugh. Plus it gives me a sense of accomplishment to see how much I have progressed. I was really into OCs when I started, so I find it neat to re-read about them.

    I was talking about this with some people like a week ago, when I first started writing, I really didnt have a lot of self-confidence so I wouldn't post until the fic was complete. Because of my lack of confidence in my writing I often didn't finish fics. Then, one night in a fit of rage at my glitchy comupter, I deleted all my fics before I ever even posted them. I regret doing it. Sure they were poorly written, but some of them could have been salvaged and eventually posted. There was one I kinda remember that had a sad, but good storyline and a couple really good scenes. I think, one of these days, I'll sit down with some paper one boring afternoon and try to remember the outline for it and try to re-write it.
  9. Ceillean

    Ceillean Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Nov 13, 2001
    I am overly self-critical and I am a perfectionist. Whenever I re-read older stuff, I can't help but shake my head. Most of the time I cringe inwardly and just groan because...good Lord! [face_laugh]

    I've come a long way writing wise in the past few years. And reading through the older stories and fanfics that I've written, I can see how my writing style has changed, I can see what has influenced me and I still see things that I can do better. It's a learning experience. And since writing is so much more than just a hobby, I'll always go back to re-reading my stories and I'll always find something that I want to change.

  10. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2002
    I kinda get a kick out of reading my old stuff. The somewhat more recent stories (within the last couple of years) I usually like. The super-old stuff is funny, mostly because of how silly it is :p But it's always a fun trip down memory lane.
  11. Valairy Scot

    Valairy Scot Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 16, 2005
    Good for you! I tend to see the negative - how much I didn't improve as much as I hoped and it makes me lose confidence that I am learning and growing. That doesn't mean I don't crow in delight at times, either.

    Oh, too true. Sometimes that non-working, poorly executed idea has an "ah ha" moment and ends up a story one is really proud of. Sometimes it spurs a story that goes 180 degrees from where you thought it would go - and does it better.

    Awful stories on the harddrive don't bother me too much because there's hope for them and no embarrrassment. It's the published ones that I wish I could redo, trim the bad back and keep only the good.
  12. anakinfansince1983

    anakinfansince1983 Skywalker Saga/LFL/YJCC Manager star 10 Staff Member Manager

    Mar 4, 2011
    I'll re-read old stuff for inspiration, and sometimes I enjoy it, but more often than not, I end up thinking of ways that I could tweak it to make it better. That's one reason I tell people that I understand why Lucas has tweaked the OT so often.

    I've had moments from both extremes, in which I thought, "Wow. I actually wrote that? Not too shabby." And moments in which I wondered what the hell Jedi Master Muse had been drinking that night, or if he had already passed out by the time I got to the keyboard.
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  13. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Force Ghost star 4

    Jun 3, 2002
    Definitely overly self-critical! I actually try not to go back and re-read my work, whether it be from years ago or something I've written more recently. I always find myself cringing. I'll always feel like it could have been better.
  14. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 16, 2004
    Generally I'k OK with what I've written when I go back and re-read something, though some I like better than others.

    But oh those typos!:eek: :rolleyes: And like roaches, there's never just one. That just gets me when I see them. It's not a simple job getting them after something's online because I have to get them anywhere they've been posted online and in the original file to make sure they don't come back.
  15. Idrelle_Miocovani

    Idrelle_Miocovani Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Feb 5, 2005
    ardavenport, I know what you mean about typos! I always seem to have them. :oops: Sometimes my fingers just have a life of their own and SpellCheck often doesn't have the wit to keep up with them. :p

    I cringe, but there are things that I enjoy. I try never to hate my old work. I'll always have things that I'd like to tweak, but sometimes I just like to appreciate my old work for what it is. I've learned a thing or two from theatre about perfectionism that I'm trying to apply to my writing: the work that you envisioned at the start usually isn't what happens when you finally get to the end, but it's always something to be enjoyed for what it is. There's no such thing as perfect (that's a hard lesson in itself! [face_laugh] ) and exhausting yourself trying to achieve it usually won't result in an outburst of healthy, positive creativity.
  16. TrakNar

    TrakNar Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Apr 4, 2011
    One of the main reasons why I didn't force myself back on schedule with my NaNo fic; if the muse doesn't want to cooperate, everything that comes out is usually absolute garbage.

    Though, sometimes, that garbage is still marginally better than some of my old cringe-fics! [face_laugh]
  17. Thorn058

    Thorn058 Jedi Master star 3

    Jul 28, 2008
    I have really wanted to get back into my writing and re-reading a few of WIP's has helped with that but I have also found that some of them are very cringe worthy. Such as my attempt at a first person POV. I was trying to create a character who was really good at one thing ie being a soldier and killing while making him seem very broken in other aspects but I fear I might have created a super Stu.

    I also tend to find those places where what I was thinking in my head didn't translate to my fingers and so the flow of the paragraph is off. Wish i was better at typing lol

    THE EVIL CLIFFIE Jedi Master star 2

    Jul 11, 2008
    I've been re-reading some of my own stuff recently and, although I had a few cringe-moments, one short, callled "Trial" was actuallt really good (if that's not being arrogant). It surprised me so much that I've reposted it and am working on fleshing it out (spurred on by the recent release of The Old Republic, the game it's set just before). Find it [link=]here[/link]. [/plug]
  19. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    I reread my own stuff a lot, mostly so I can laugh at things that I used to do. For example my really bad Mary Sue from when I was 15. My version of Vader when all we'd seen was Episode 1. How in the first three things I had accepted to the archive, Luke didn't sound like Luke at all.

    Also, stuff from the past gives me ideas for the present.

    And then, yes, there is the little egotistical bit of me that likes to go back and read my favorite parts of certain things so I can go DANG! I was on form!
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  20. SithGirl132

    SithGirl132 Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 6, 2005
    I've found myself re-reading my old stuff a lot lately, trying to get back into writing. It's really fun to see what I think I did well and what I don't really like any longer, whether because I've gotten older or because canon has changed. It's kind of awkward for me to re-read some of my really older stuff, because now it sounds really strange! There are so many things I would have done so differently now.
  21. Roain_Xantos

    Roain_Xantos Jedi Padawan star 4

    Jan 21, 2005
    I'm actually quite embarrassed reading my old stuff. I think all of it was written when I was about fourteen, so I see all the silly mistakes I made. It's short too; I could never get more than two or three pages out of anything because I would start out with the intention of killing my characters, and it's kind of cruel to drag it out, no? :p I've written a good deal over the past couple of years, but it's all been just to get things out of my head and has nothing to do with Star Wars. Perhaps I should change that once my exegesis paper is complete... Re-reading old stuff makes us better writers, though, if we let ourselves be at least somewhat critical. There's my two creds. Just trying to ease back into the boards...been a while. :)
  22. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    I just started rereading my Episode 3 fic, written about a year before Episode 2. I got Anakin so wrong... And Obi-Wan was encouraging him to have a stable relationship.
  23. Raphire

    Raphire Jedi Knight star 4

    Dec 19, 2008
    I enjoy re-reading my works. Well... Except for my early stuff. But nobody likes their beginning works... granted when I read my stuff I wince and laugh at myself but I also can see how far I have come. Most of all though I can see what sorts of things trip me up in my writing. Like a lack of synonyms or using ... too much. And from there I can change my current writing. However I think what I really like about re-reading my works is that to be honest I write so many one-shots I forget about them. Lol. So I occasionally get to have a "Wait... I wrote this?" moment which can be either good or bad but at least it is always entertaining. All in all I enjoy re-reading no matter how painful it might get.
  24. Cushing's Admirer

    Cushing's Admirer Chosen One star 7

    Jun 8, 2006
    I love re-reading my original works but I always run the risk of tweaking it if I do. I'm constantly striving to improve and unfortunately that means I'm a constant revisionist. I've had a completed draft of my tribute fic: To Mend The Heart for about 4 months but in that time I've tweaked it like 8 major times. The latest being finished just yesterday. [face_whistling]

    I've also recently tweaked my sci-fi epic late last year after not looking at it for 8 months (and in the 21/2 week editing period) I realized that I'd grown a lot in the eight months I'd taken a hiatus from sci-fi writing.

    I am also very self-critical and rather a bit afraid to share my works. Though I love feedback.
  25. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Chosen One star 9

    Mar 26, 2001
    Well, it could be worse. Before Episode 3 came out, I wrote Lest Ye Be Judged. In 250 pages, I put Vader on trial, convicted him and then had him die of natural causes. After Episode 3 came out, I rewrote that, more than tripled the word count, changed the ending, developed two subplots that hadn't even been looked at in the original and changed a lot about Leia's characterization. So sometimes, rereads aren't bad for the sake of tweaking.
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