I’m writing a continuation for my first story and I like to read the older chapters just to avoid any continuity errors (and errors in general) but I noticed there’s so many mistakes that I cringe whenever I try to read them and I slightly wonder how anyone could ever continue reading a story like that. It doesn’t necessarily bother me that much, but I feel like readers will less likely continue if there’s so many errors or maybe I’m just overthinking it again.
What do you do? Do you leave them alone and move on? Edit them? Revise?
Yes! I’m doing that right now as I reupload stories. The first to go up were the ones that I didn’t think needed much fixing - now’s the heavy lifting.
I can’t stand when I’m not happy with a story of mine, and as time has passed I’ve become very unhappy with my first couple, despite the fact that people seemed to enjoy them. But, I still have that nagging feeling that “Maybe people would have enjoyed them more if I didn’t make so many mistakes,” lol.
So, yes indeed. I do all the time. And absolutely understand you doing the same. Though, always remember… you are infinitely more critical of your own stories than the average reader is. The average guy on this site reads it, thinks “That was so HOT!!!” and moves on thinking you’re amazing, TheAuthor. You are your own worst critic - we all are!
I have the very same feeling, that’s why I can hardly bring myself to read my older stories…
But I have to if I ever want to continue them. And I really want to, since I left almost all of them hanging without a proper ending…
I went back and did a pass on an older story for one of the competitions, but largely I tend to leave 'em as is. I’ve found that my writing style has evolved, and there’s something cool about reading an older story and seeing how you expressed yourself at the time. There’s some hot stuff that 24 year old Derek said that I don’t think 34 year old Derek would ever have come up with.
First I would encourage you to not feel too bad about errors in older stories. The current site is much more robust than the predecessor sites and I know that a lot of my early stories were written plain text in notepad! Fixing typos was just not really something you could even do easily in the older versions of the site.
Now I have been going through my older stories and at least spellchecking and proofing them to fix significant problems. I did specifically revise and expand a couple of my older stories in preparation of continuing them but another of my older stories I felt just didn’t need to be touched.
Since I posted my first stories on this site, Martin has made a huge amount of improvements to the formatting. I have gone through some of my work mainly improving the paragraphing and providing line breaks between sections which was not possible when I originally wrote them. I hope that it has made them much clearer for people to read.
If I do, I pretty much always write an entirely new version honestly. I did an updated and expanded version of “Losing Control”, which was my first story ever, and honestly, my series like “City of Bears” are all just revisions/expansions/versions of themselves. It’s perfectly natural to go back to your old stuff! I think that getting too bogged down in the editing/nitpicking isn’t particularly healthy, and I’d suggest you look at the bigger picture, where the story could have gone, things you hadn’t thought about before, that sort of thing.
Usually, I leave old stories alone and let them be, warts and all – it’s a good reminder to me about where I’ve been as a writer.
However, last year I wrote the “Second Book” of POLLINATION: the SERIES, which was over fifteen years after I’d written the First. That gave me the excuse I needed to fix some things that bugged me in the First Book – but it was all detail work. I didn’t rewrite any big scenes or anything like that.
I’m thinking of publishing a collection of older stories later this year, depending on how well PHOLUS sells. If I do, I will definitely dig in and clean them up and work on them. Otherwise, probably not.
I do occasionally, I’ve been a terrible, terrible writer who’s learning very quickly, so when I go back and read I often “plug in” my more up to date technical awareness and such.
And of course, correct spelling errors.
I’ve been tempted to fix (i.e. update; make current for today) some of my older stories (I started writing in the late 1990s) but a part of me feels like I should leave them as it were written. I agree wit DerekWilliams when he says ‘there something cool about reading an older story and seeing how you expressed yourself at the time,’ but then there’s Martin’s comment (which I also identify with) of, ‘I can hardly bring myself to read my older stories.’ I wrote one a few years ago in first person present which, at the time, was an experiment and I liked the outcome, but will most likely edit it to first person.