Writing Question

Do you ever feel tempted to go back and improve your earlier fics? I’ve developed so much as a writer over the past year, and now a part of me can’t face reading my early work, or the thought of others doing so. However, a lot of my stories follow on from each other, so deleting the early ones would be a bit tricky. People seem to enjoy them, though not uncritically. And the criticism I do receive is usually constructive and justified.

I just wondered what other writers tend to do – let early work stand as a monument to your inexperience, or go back and polish?


13 thoughts on “Writing Question

  1. Actually, just last night, I was telling a friend how unhappy I was with an fic I’d written a handful of years ago. Looking back at it, it could use a giant overhaul.
    I won’t do it for two reasons. 1. I don’t have the time, nor the drive to do it. I’ve moved past it, and I’m a bit over it. 2. I think it does stand as kind of a monument to what you used to write, and how your style has progressed.

  2. I tend to agree with you there. My problem is I only get ideas by writing. So my stories evolve as I write them. I’ve never been good at plotting things out completely in advance.
    My first multi-chapter was unbeta’d, simply because I didn’t know anyone well enough to ask. And for some strange reason I felt I had to post a chapter a day, which I’d never do now. I didn’t build in any time to reflect on it. In fact, I’m surprised it didn’t turn out worse than it did.

  3. I used to do that, too, post one chapter every day. I think at the time, it was about keeping the people who were reading it happy, and interested, and the fear that they’d lose interest.
    Since then, I’ve definitely learned to write for myself, and not the people who read what I post. For me, that was it, really.

  4. Yeah, sometimes I feel the urge. When I first started writing fic, I didn’t use a beta. (Had no idea what that was.) A couple of years ago I had someone beta those first fics because that was bugging me. But other than that, I usually let things stand.

  5. With my traditional (non-digital) artwork, it has to stand as it was because I couldn’t change it. Before I got sick, I only cared about attaining perfection, and would always see the faults, often hiding my work from the public eye.
    Since I’ve been sick, I view things less about the attainment and more about the effort. I know looking at work that I’ve done that it was the best that I could do at the time. This way I get to enjoy and be proud of what I create.
    I’m lucky in my fiction in that I’ve only had/wanted to go back and give it a grammar tweak. I’m lucky in that my stories are sound plotwise and I usually convey it with the right words. The exception was during the multi-chapter Eyes Open, where I changed it almost as soon as I’d posted it in response to readers comments on aspects that weren’t fully clear.
    Of course, Eyes Open dealt with Captain’s Jack’s return. But as I’d written it before Season Three aired, I had to change about four sentences to make that chapter canon compliant. I am still happy with the original version of the chapter, so I’ve given two versions of it and leave it for readers to choose which to read.
    I’m hesitant to delete old works, as it seems disrespectful to the people that have commented. I do, however, take artwork down that no-one has commented on or favourited.

  6. Sometimes, when I’m reading older fics of mine, if I see a mistake in spelling or grammar or a word missing, punctuation, ect, then I fix it. But otherwise…as far as the actual writing, even if it makes me cringe, I just leave it. *shrug* There is always room to improve, and if I always went back to rewrite things, I’d never be done with them. =P I dunno, that’s just me. Once they’re finished and posted I’m done and moving on.

  7. I tend to let them stand, though I have cringed. Last year, I went back to read through some of my old X-Files fics (since I started posting them on LJ) and was cringing on putting them up there… however, put them I did, with only minor spelling/grammar errors being corrected.

  8. I tend to let them stand, though I have cringed.
    Me, too. I’ve some truly awful X-Files fanfiction that I am probably not brave enough to put on my LJ (although you never know); some of it’s been cannibalised for newer fic so there must have been something good about it to begin with.
    I think it’s really about what you feel most comfortable with.

  9. I’ve been contemplating this for some time at a very informal level — not with everything, but with my longer and more involved stories. Ultimately, I haven’t gone back and done anything, mostly because I’ve got too much on my plate to begin with.

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