Draftback finds the hidden history of your Google doc epics

A good story is a very special incarnation of magic, and if there’s one thing more interesting than seeing how it unfolds, it’s seeing how it was put together. Thankfully, a terribly neat new tool called Draftback — created by New York-based writer/programmer James Somers — sort of lets you do just that… as long as the story in question lives in a Google document.

You see, the secret to Draftback’s sorcery is that Google tracks every change you make to a document in incredibly minute detail – we’re talking on a character-by-character basis, and all that writing data doesn’t actually go anywhere. What Draftback does is it tallies up all those little changes and lumps them all into a single, interactive animation that shows off how your sentences shrink, your ideas swell, and your word choice grows more florid the later it gets. Think of it as an exercise in literary archeology.

No, really! Imagine your favorite writer, and visualize how well there arguments and suggestions and ideas flow together. Got it? The fruits of their talent are what ultimately wind up on the page, but all the agony and frustration that goes into each of those gems is lost to the sands of time. Until now, anyway. Just keep this in mind as you start playing around with it: Draftback is more a passion project than it is a polished product, don’t be surprised to stumble across a few hiccups. They’re not too numerous now (the neat analytical graphs that highlight when and where changes were made don’t seem to work), but its core seems to work as well as us word nerds would like. Well, for now.

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