WP #185 - Manuscript Safety & Why I Fired Microsoft OneDrive

Published about 2 months ago • 4 min read

Dear Reader,

Don't shoot the messenger. Someone—someone else, not me—chose March 31st as World Backup Day, and this year, it happens to coincide with Easter Sunday.

From the Readers

Our question last week was: How do you map out your stories? What methods work best for you?

"I start with an idea, maybe not as fully fleshed out as a premise. I may have written down when I woke up in the night or from seeing something out the window. For my debut novel I was sitting and Spinning blue merino fiber in yarn looking out the window and realized I out see what was happening outside but no one could see me. My main character sees who goes into a house and a person is found dead shortly after. From there I'm off to the races!
"Usually I type at the computer. Sometimes I write it out on a legal pad. Almost every time, at some point, I realize that I've written what should be chapter one as chapter four. Then I print the thing out and cut up the physical copy and tape it together in the new improved sequence. If I planned a little more before I started writing, I would probably be able to skip this step, but it's worked for four novels so far.
"Love your articles! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and wit!" —K

Our brains are individually, uniquely wired. You should absolutely do what works for you. Realizing you have figured out a key part of your plot when it seems to come out of thin air is a wonderful experience.

Writing in longhand seems to open a creative portal in my brain, and when I'm stuck, I turn to pen and paper. I take a spiral notebook to doctor appointments because there is no telling how long they will make me wait, and I would rather be writing. BTW, the premise of witnessing a possible crime from a window gives me shivers; one of the most terrifying movies (to me) is Rear Window, directed by Hitchcock and starring Jimmy Stewart.

"I think my method is fairly similar to yours. I mull around until I have a main character (or frequently a couple) and premise, then I ask why until I expand my premise into a barebones synopsis/timeline (though I'm a lover of outlines so that's what I call it). On my timeline, I try to make sure I hit the major plot points/beats. I usually already have one or two very specific scenes planned before I start. I write from beginning to end - the scenes help motivate me to write what comes before as finally getting to the spot where I can write that scene is my reward." — a different K

My method is much as you described. For my WIP, I have added a step of entering the beats into Plottr (https://plottr.com/). This helped me see a few plot holes and pacing problems before I started writing in earnest.


“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
― Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

This is your regular reminder from me, the ex-systems engineer, to back up your files!

Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and similar syncing software applications are not failproof, so make sure you go beyond these measures for backing up your files.

The key to strong backups is redundancy which is a fancy word for multiple file copies in multiple locations.

You need both: multiple copies + multiple locations. If you are missing one of those components, please fix your backup procedures ASAP.

Make sure at least one backup location is off site, preferably not in your hometown because tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, and floods happen.

Personally, I use an external hard drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Backblaze.

I use Backblaze to back up my computer hard drive, and the application also backs up my external hard drive.

If you want to try Backblaze, here is my Backblaze Refer-a-Friend link: https://secure.backblaze.com/r/05s24c. You get a free month trial of Backblaze, and I get a free month of Backblaze if you decide to get a paid plan. (It's that simple.)

There are many great alternatives to Backblaze; I strongly suggest adding a full hard drive backup to your arsenal.

Speaking of manuscript safety, I created a blog post from one of the 2023 Writing Pursuits Tips newsletters that has EVERYTHING to do with today's theme.

Manuscript Safety and Why I Fired Microsoft OneDrive

In mid-June 2023, my installation of Microsoft OneDrive glitched and cost me a lot of work hours, but I lived to tell the tale. This is not intended as guidance, other than to say be alert, especially if you keep your manuscripts in Microsoft Word on OneDrive. Let me tell you why I fired Microsoft OneDrive.

Be alert for OneDrive glitches.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a lawyer, so this tip is only about my personal experience with Microsoft OneDrive, and it is not intended as medical or legal (or technical) advice.

Hello. My name is Kathrese McKee, and I’m a PC user. I have used Microsoft software since DOS 1.0. (Don’t do the math; that’s just rude.) Obviously, I’m not against all things Microsoft.

Before OneDrive was a thing (2014), I used its predecessor, SkyDrive (2007). So, I’m not a novice to the application. For those of you who are novices, OneDrive is a file hosting service operated by Microsoft that enables users to share and synchronize their files. You know, storing stuff in the cloud.

As I have stated in previous issues of the Writing Pursuits Tips newsletter, OneDrive is NOT a backup service. More about that in a minute.

Why I Fired Microsoft OneDrive

For many years, I have kept my client work on OneDrive because I work in Microsoft Word with Track Changes turned on. I also keep my time sheets in Excel. OneDrive saved my files incrementally, and I never had to worry about losing work.

Until now.

Today's post contains loads of additional resources and tips.

YOU can suggest questions, issues, and topics by using the Suggestion Box.

I hope to hear from you. Make this newsletter work for you by guiding the topics through direct suggestions. Thanks!

This week's question is: How do you map out your stories? What methods work best for you? Please share.

Reply to ​kmckee@writingpursuits.com​. I look forward to your answers.

Thanks for reading this week's tips.
Keep writing!

Kathrese McKee
Owner, Writing Pursuits LLC

P.S. - Request a free 15-minute consultation. I'm here to help!

See my Services page here to inquire. Mention that you read it here and receive a 10% discount.

The repository for past newsletters is here: https://tips.writingpursuits.com/profile

Kathrese McKee helps authors write great stories; she hosts the Writing Pursuits podcast, teaches workshops about writing craft topics, and writes speculative fiction books, short stories, and flash fiction. Kathrese has edited fiction professionally since 2014. Learn more about her books and services at WritingPursuits.com.

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