How different is your Rough Draft from the Story you published?

The only kind of writing is rewriting.

Ernest Hemingway

Besides changing dialogue or expanding a scene, how different is your finished work from your plan? Have you added or dropped entire characters or plotlines? Have you changed your work to be more or less taboo?

Dalton Creek originally had nothing to do with mental health or anything of the sort. It really was more ‘horror’ than ‘romance’, but as i was writing it and made Mildred so horrid, i really felt bad for the main character, Daniel.

There was no three chapter dream sequence (which people probably would have liked because the feedback for that section was mixed)

There was a whole character that I scrapped and just merged bits of him onto the other characters, which felt much more organic.

So, how about you? Have you captured your original vision perfectly, or have you stumbled off the path and ended up somewhere completely different?


In my novel, I had to go back and add a new character into two chapters that I had finished, without making it seem like I was inserting a character into an already finished scene. That was a fun challenge.

Most of what I do in a second draft is refine my first draft. I regard it as sculpture – I remove all the stuff that doesn’t look like it needs to be there and add stuff that does.


That’s a really interesting way to think about it! I’ve never retroactively inserted a character, I don’t know how you would even start.

I don’t have a backlog of chapters: I basically upload on the day i finish it. I tend to do stream-of-consciousness which makes the direction of the story a surprise to me too which probably isn’t the best plan. I like to sow little seeds of ideas and then see what happens.

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Personally, I’m a plotter. That said, this is how I plot:

I have a general overview of where I’m going. Usually, I know the climactic moment of the story and/or the ending. I’m not always sure of all the details, but I know I’m going in the right direction.

I “hard-plot” at least two or three chapters ahead, though, when weaving subplots, I tend to jump to “who haven’t we seen in a while”? But characters “suggest” subplots and story direction all the time – that’s what good characters do.

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That’s so true! That’s part of the reason I enjoy community series so much. What are the characters telling me to do?

It varies a lot on the chapter/story I’m writing. For Web of Trust, which is my biggest series, I’ve run the entire gamut. For many chapters, there was very little revision at all. For some chapters, there’s been some major changes or even just scrapping my first attempt (or three, in one case!) to go with a completely different approach.

Most of the time, I only significantly alter a chapter or subplot if it really isn’t working as written, whether that’s in terms of continuity, the needs of the story, or just my writing being really off.

The series itself is a good example of a story going somewhere different than intended. When I started, the story was going to basically be my junk pile…something I added short, disconnected chapters to (like an anthology) whenever I was horny and wanted to write. Instead, it developed a life of its own…chapters intertwined until I was thinking in terms of a large story instead of just a few random chapters whenever I felt like it.


I saw this question in another thread, but it was only directed at Absman (I believe), but how often, if ever, does feedback alter your stories?

I believe @absman420 said that it doesn’t, since he’s a planner, but sometimes someone says something in the comments that makes me stop and think.

I will say that for me personally, in Dalton Creek, Jack the fireman was just a one-off character, but a few people said they liked him so I kept him around. When I thought about it, his character just worked better than the one I was going to introduce.

On another note, do you find that the number of comments or likes motivates or discourages you? I just write what i like, and if people like it, cool, if not they can just read something else.

Same thing with rating, some of my favourite chapters are the lowest rated.

Basically if I like the idea, I’ll use it, if I don’t then I won’t. Can’t be simpler than that.

I usually have a direction I’m planning, but feedback absolutely alters my stories. Usually when I’m doing a multi-chapter story.

Sometimes I get suggestions about things people would like to see. About two-thirds of the “Vanilla” series came from fan requests. I had a few key beats I knew I needed to hit, and the rest of it was filled in with stuff people were asking for. There’s nothing cooler than the moment you’re writing a scene and realize you can make someone’s day.

Sometimes I alter stories because I read the comments and realize that people are catching on to something faster or slower than I’d intended. For example, in my recent “It’s hard…” series, people were guessing the hidden villain faster than I expected, so I had to add some additional misdirection.

Sometimes I alter stories because a character in the story demands it. There was a character in ‘Vanilla’ that I intended to be a one-off transformation, and he ended up being the main character’s love interest. He just jumped off the page so strongly I had to do it.

Oh, and there have been a few times when someone has emailed or DM’d and given me a cool idea. Sometimes I’ll write a story just cuz some dude got me hard talking about it. I don’t know if that’s altering a story, so much as inspiring the whole thing.

Edit: I think it’s really important to hear and listen to feedback, but ultimately remember that it’s your story, and you should write what works for you.

One more edit: This is actually why I don’t write chapters for a multi-part story in advance, but rather one at a time. I like to see the feedback as I build the story so that Ic an take it into account, rather than waiting until it’s too late.

That’s really sweet.

I think the big issue is that people might like the story as it is, but not comment or rate, so you never really know if you are making the story better for the audience by changing. It’s kind of like a recipe. Some people hate olives. Do you omit them? Do you change the story for the few people you know are reading, or do you hold the course? I do like your point about adding things that you know people like. People seem to like sweat and musk so every now and then I just sprinkle some more in there.

I like to think I’m not so stubborn that I refuse to accept feedback. At the end if the day the stories here are an interactive experience.

I think that’s the crux of it for me. Stories aren’t just one sided, they’re a conversation. One where the author does most of the talking.

If people don’t want to rate or comment, they’re not really joining that conversation. I’m here for the people who do. I like to reply to every comment, answer questions, share little jokes, etc – my whole goal in doing that is to make commenting a fun part of the experience. Maybe get a few people who weren’t commenting before into the practice.

I actually do the same thing with scents and sweat. It’s not my thing, but it’s not a turnoff, so I toss it in there, because for some people it’s everything. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of scat, so no matter how much people ask for it, I’ll just politely suggest they write their own story or look for another author. Ultimately, you want a story that you love.


I really should reply to more comments. I’ve replied to I think 2 and neither time launched a dialogue, so i kind of just stopped.

On the reverse side, when I read a story I almost never comment, because generally it would just be me saying ‘I like this!’ to just about every story on here.

Except ones about orcs and stuff, those don’t do it for me, even though I love high fantasy.

I’m never really expecting a dialog - it’s rare. But I know the way I feel when an author I like replies to one of my comments, so I try to do that for others.

Totally, I also make plenty of “This was great!” style comments. Sometimes I’ll do deeper ones, if there was a theme or specific feature of the story I loved. I’m trying to write better comments, but in the meantime, I’m hoping the authors are enjoying the ones I leave.

Anyhow, this is just my philosophy on stories as conversations.


Would you ever leave a negative comment or review? Even if it was dreadful i would never.

I would just stop reading and click on something else.


One of the reasons I keep my Absman Blabs thread going is for discussion of stories and ideas, etc. Fun stuff.

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It was at 1000 posts last I checked. That’s amazing!

Nah. Most of the time if I’m not into a story, it’s because it’s not for me, not because there’s anything wrong with it.

Sometimes the story isn’t well written, and that’s okay too. I wasn’t a great writer when I started, but with practice I think I’ve gotten decent. If I was too hard on a new writer, they might not want to try again. I want them to try again – they will improve if they keep at it.


Agree 100%. Some of my favourite stories have the weakest writing. It has a kind of home-brewed vibe to it. There is something honest about it. As you say writing improves over time.

Maybe a ‘compliment sandwich’ is a good approach, compliment, criticism, compliment.

Then again the internet is a bit like the wild west, if you aren’t being insulted by strangers are you really doing it right? :joy:

It’s definitely altered my stories at times. I’m a planner as well, but more of a vague planner. I have major plot-points thought out, but how I get there and what fills in the gaps tends to be a lot more open until I get close to writing that part.

The biggest example that I can think of off-hand where a comment changed a story was when someone commented for Like Father, Like Son that they were looking forward to reading about the birthday party. Up to that point, I’d really only ever intended to write a few paragraphs or so about the birthday party, but after the commenter said that, I realized that not only would that be a good idea just from the fun things I could have everyone doing, but that the story itself needed the birthday party and would have been very lacking without it. Damned if I remember who the commenter was or where they said it, but thank you unknown commenter! :stuck_out_tongue:

That said, I definitely ignore commenters a lot of the time, too. I’ve had some comments where people were inserting their own personal fantasies into a story that was clearly going in a completely different direction. Those ones, I usually respond politely to that that’s not where the story’s headed. Then there’s the (thankfully rare) ones that are basically telling me what to write next. Those ones, I’m usually not so polite. Either way, unless it’s something I feel the story would really benefit from, I usually ignore those suggestions.


Honestly, I’d rather read some constructive criticism to my story than somebody not writing at all. Especially if it’s not dreadful but just lacking in certain aspects, so that the reader is not really ecstatic enough to praise the story.

I’d like to improve my writing and constructive criticism is what I need to get better. Especially since English is not my native language.

I like that. I guess I am much the same, just to a lesser extent. I have a few story beats i want to hit, but sometimes I find that what i write to fill in the gaps leads me to a different place, then it’s a case of reworking the ‘check-points’ to fit the new narrative.

I had this idea for a horror scene, a sort of bad-ending I guess, but I liked where the story was going and now that ‘check-point’ is a few miles back in the wrong direction.