The 8 Fates of Okteveos completed its second edit. Then, the SD card that holds the working copy of the book physically broke in half during a routine inspection of the laptop hardware. This could have been a total disaster were it not for an aggressive backup policy in place for the work. In all, 4 levels of backup are in place to protect J. Tordsen’s writing.
Sadly, the first automatic backup of the work failed and he lost about 3000 words of the upcoming novel. Fortunately, nearly half the book was in the hands of early BETA readers after the second edit was completed and the 3000 words lost were in the sections that hadn’t gone out yet.
This meant those sections had to be re-edited. While the original second edit is lost forever, we can look at the word counts and get a sense of how the book has changed since the data was lost.
The following table shows how the book’s word count has evolved through the writing process.
|4 – 5
Section 1: This section was in the hands of beta readers and comprises half of the book. The reason the word count is slightly off is because this section had a slight edit based on the BETA reader feedback. It was essentially a simplification of the introduction that was lost with the other 2nd edits.
Section 2: This is where things start to get hard. As I went through the section again, I would come across part of the manuscript where I knew I expanded a section to add detail, but I couldn’t remember exactly why that was. Then there were other sections that were obvious and I easily filled it in even though it wasn’t exactly done in the same way as before.
Section 3: The process of going through the sections knowing that this edit was not going to be the same as the previous was a bit defeating. I tried to lean into it by making the this edit better than the last. It helped but the demotivating factor was always there.
Section 4 – 5: This is where tracking word counts really helped. This section was always an important section which made it easier to edit. The fact I was able to add much more detail than even the previous edit was very satisfying.
Section 6: The same could be said of this section. I was able to add more detail that contributed to the general quality of the read. I think it was generally improved.
Section 7: This is the climax so I had the goal of getting close to the 2nd edit word count. This was how I measured the success of the new edit in this case. Oddly, despite losing a few hundred words, this section is largely unchanged. The second edit only added more detail from the first but the plot and flow is the same.
Section 8: Whenever there was a loss in word count, it always made me think I missed something. I spent hours going back over this section thinking that I forgot something. I didn’t. The ending changed and was better integrated into the story. It ended up being more succinct with fewer plot holes.
While the book lost 1100 words, some sections were greatly improved. Because I tend not to overwrite, It was a matter of remembering the additions I made in the previous edits. For the other sections, I have to trust the editing process to help fill in the gaps that couldn’t be filled for whatever reason. The third edit I read out loud to myself to help catch inconsistencies in the story. If I added content because of an inconsistency I didn’t catch in this edit, it should shine brightly in the third.
J. Tordsen uses a multi-layered backup system.
Auto Backup: First, Auto Backup is turned on in LibreOffice. This is not the same as Auto Save. Auto Backup creates a second file in another location automatically every time the file is saved. In this case, as he works off of an SD card, it creates a backup file on the main system. This is a feature that must be turned on in LibreOffice.
Flash Drive: A manual backup is also done to a USB drive.
Cloud: If Internet is available (it isn’t always available everywhere he writes), a manual backup is made to Google Drive. This protects against bag theft where someone steals the entire writing kit. A process to automate this system is being looked at.
Server: Finally, the work is backed up to a file server.
Process: Yes, even the process can be a backup. In this case, sending out to BETA readers saved half of the manuscript.
Despite this, accidents can happen and no system is completely foolproof. There is also no set system for backups. Three locations is the general rule for best practices with one location in the cloud. Regardless, the system that works for you is the best system.