W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

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W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby gyhaney » 27 Apr 2011, 17:38

How many people do you share your work with? What's your critique process? How do you handle feedback? Is there such a thing as too much feedback?

In the spirit of that last question, my co-creator and I have decided to "go off the grid," if you will, with our two projects that are closest to completion: The Sons of The Moon (a collaborative work of fantasy fiction) and Disciple 6 (a comic book.) We both sort of felt that enough eyes have seen the behind-the-scenes of our projects; enough kind and constructive notes had been given; enough opinion had been thrown into the mix. It was time to pull back and lock in on our vision. And, you know, leave them wanting more. :D

Does this mean I'm through talking about The Sons of The Moon? Not a chance. It's just that the versions and excerpts and things that have bounced around the internet for a while will be cleaned up and done away with. We will be a seeking a COUPLE of beta readers for The Sons of The Moon come October, but until then the tasty peaks will come to an end.

There's a couple reasons for this:

1. The Sons of The Moon is on its fifth and final draft. It's been read by more than 20 readers at various stages of gestation. It's been queried and submitted twice to more than 30 agents. It's been read enough. Its been commented on enough. The feedback has been invaluable, but we've gotten to the point where its like "what can be left to say?" If we don't have a handle on this story yet, this story is doomed. We've got a handle on this story.

2. Too much second-guessing can really stall a project and leave it stale. I've seen this in my own work. When I was too focused on what a critique reader had to say or how to shift each and every suggestion or idea into some working part of the story, the writing was all over the place. It didn't flow - it was disjointed. Because I was seeing it through 10 sets of eyes instead of just mine (and Matt's.) I still think feedback is great. We will still have probably two different editors handling the final version of the manuscript before publication. But they will be professionals and their job will be to polish, not to impart those "readerly" opinions we've come to know and love (and loathe, at times...)

So what do you say, humble readers? What's your process for feedback and critiques? Do you share a lot while working on a project, or do you keep it closely guarded till its ready to see the light of day?

(original post can be found here http://creatinglifegm.blogspot.com/2011/04/feedback-how-much-is-too-much.html. If you'd like to comment on the post, I'd love it if you'd do it there. Comments make me happy. :D)
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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby vickiconner » 27 Apr 2011, 18:59

I have one person that I share everything with, regardles of what stage it's in. That person is my fifteen year-old daughter. I know she will give me her honest opinion. Her first impression pops out of her mouth without a single concern for my feelings. I have come to count on that.

Other than her, I gaurd my work pretty close until it gets to the point where I am proud to put my name on it. Usually, by then, I have reached the saturation point and am in great need of feedback. Luckily, I have quite a few friends who are ready and willing to critique for me.

But I understand what you're saying. Now that my manuscript is ready for publication, and word has gotten out from previous readers that "it's good", I have more and more people asking to read it. I've thought about telling them to wait and buy the book, then soften the blow with an offer to sign it. :) But I wonder if it's smart to pass up the chance for more "word-of-mouth" recommendations.

It's kind of a double-edged sword.

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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby Mike R » 27 Apr 2011, 19:06

I belong to a critique group and run everything through it as I'm writing. They read mine and I read theirs and we all have a great time marking up the pages. I take some of their advice, but not all. It's my story after all.
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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby Sommer Leigh » 28 Apr 2011, 06:40

I think you know your work best and know when enough is enough. I think it is smart to have a fresh pair of eyes who haven't heard anythinga bout the project or read any previous parts read teh entire thing when you feel you are all done. I think the fresh pair of eyes will be able to look at the whole as a reader would and you want to know what your final version looks like to them.

But again, only you can know for sure when enough is enough. And if you feel that you're done, then go with it.
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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby Wren Emerson » 28 Apr 2011, 08:14

I think it depends a lot on the quality of the feedback. One really good crit would be more helpful to me than 20 well meaning people giving wishy washy opinions.
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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby Debra D. » 29 Apr 2011, 08:06

I agree with Wren--one awesome crit trumps several so-so ones.

I used to use crit groups, but found they don't work very well for me. When I'm rough-drafting, I don't like getting critical feedback, because it dampens my enthusiasm for the project (OMG! THIS SUCKS! I'M DOOMED!) and by the time I'm revising, crit groups go too slowly to be very useful.

I pretty much stick to betas these days. :)
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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby Matthew MacNish » 29 Apr 2011, 11:49

IMHO there are different levels. I only work with about 2-3 critique partners, and we provide pretty deep feedback to each other, but once I'm done with revisions based on their opinions, I'll be sending it out widely to beta readers.

I think it depends on how experienced you are, and how polished each draft becomes, whether because of your existing knowledge or because of changes you have made based on help from others.
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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby Margo » 29 Apr 2011, 12:14

I have two readers, one of whom is an aspiring novelist. Both have been kind enough to follow me through a great deal of my learning process so they know what's expected of my genre. They know the language of writing well enough to comment on conflict or tension or incidential action. They can talk dialogue tags and inciting incidents and first plot points. I am beyond lucky. Then, to put the icing on the cake, I can post samples on my blog and a bunch of the fabulous writers around here come read it and tell me what they think.

How much is too much? I think a writer eventually gets the feel for that. When all the crits start pointing out the same handful of issues. When an obvious theme to the comments becomes apparent. I recently found myself in the situation of having done one revision too many. My instincts told me I'd overworked it, and (without knowing that was my feeling) my readers agreed.

In general, my readers will go over a ms for me 2-3 times. But I do a pretty clean first draft, sacrificing speed for more careful crafting.
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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby marion » 30 Apr 2011, 04:25

I miss being part of a critique group. It helps keep me motivated. And the feedback is helpful.
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Re: W.I.P. Feedback: How Much Is Too Much?

Postby paulajewelry » 30 Apr 2011, 15:52

I have one beta reader who is also my brainstorming partner. She reads my first draft--knows the basic story--and then we brainstorm possible ways to make it even better. After a few revisions, my husband reads it for depth. He sees the details and helps me create layers for characters and plot while I concentrate on line editing. If someone REALLY wants to read my work, I'll give it to them, but I take their critiques with a grain of salt. I attended one critique group and felt it a waste of time when I could be writing. I do attend a writer's group established after a close-by conference who have met now for a couple of years. We discuss ideas and progress but don't really critique our work. Too many cooks in the kitchen can destroy a great dish.
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