Should you share your writing before it's finished?

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Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby hannah_dreamergirl_3 » 17 Feb 2010, 04:55

Other than my dad and my best friend I have NEVER shown anyone what I'm working on atm, I'm about a third of the way through and was wondering if you think it's a good idea to get people to read over your work as your going?

Thanks,

Hannah
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby dementedtinkerbell » 17 Feb 2010, 05:01

I don't think it's a mistake showing people your writing before it's finished. I however, found that whenever I shared an idea for a story that I had, people automatically tried to change it, add ideas of their own and generally put me in a funk. I try not to show anyone what I'm writing any more because the pressure from friends and family drives me nuts. They always seem to want to change what I'm writing, how I'm writing it and even though I always outline carefully, I tend to lose the thread of the story I'm working on thanks to the interference.

I think it can, and does, work for some people. Unfortunately, it doesn't work at all for me.
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby JustineDell » 17 Feb 2010, 05:52

dementedtinkerbell wrote:I don't think it's a mistake showing people your writing before it's finished. I however, found that whenever I shared an idea for a story that I had, people automatically tried to change it, add ideas of their own and generally put me in a funk. I try not to show anyone what I'm writing any more because the pressure from friends and family drives me nuts. They always seem to want to change what I'm writing, how I'm writing it and even though I always outline carefully, I tend to lose the thread of the story I'm working on thanks to the interference.

I think it can, and does, work for some people. Unfortunately, it doesn't work at all for me.


You've got a good point, so the answer is yes and no - depending on you. I wrote my entire first book without letting anyone read it. You know what I have been doing the last month? Re-writing it because of all the problems I found. The same problems that could have been worked out if someone read-as-I-went. Plot holes, character problems, etc. A critique partner could have found all those problems as I went so I could have corrected and then continued. Now, I'm up to my ears in 300 pages of changes and my head is starting to hurt.

But then there is the current wip, which was getting read two chapters at time by my critique partner. It was a godsend because she found some serious quirks that I worked out early that won't have an impact on the rest of the story now. See? Now I won't find those problems later and have to re-write 5 chapters! I'm only seven chapters in and I lost my critique partner. Boo-hoo. I LOVED her, but reasons beyond our control pulled her away. So now I'm stuck with family, which aren't the best picks for critique partners. They are biased, but they help, albeit not as much as I need. Anyways, my sister, who is an avid reader of pretty much everything BUT romance (which is hilarious because that's what I write) is the only family member who dares to tell me "Oh no! You need to change this. I don't like that. What the heck is this? You can't kill them. I don't like her. etc, etc." Yeah, I want to pull my hair out at times when she reads something of mine. HOWEVER, she has also given me some of the greatest ideas. It's a catch-22. I hate and love it at the same time.

You see? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. What matters is what YOU do with the feedback people give you. Are you going to let it eat at you? That's not the best idea. If you don't like it, file it away and just say thank you. If you do, great! Getting different perspectives on your work is important (to me at least). They can see things that you as the writer can't. You may not like what they have to say and that's okay. No matter what, it's still your story - keep it that way.

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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby dementedtinkerbell » 17 Feb 2010, 07:13

I see your point. The only person I have to read my work currently is my ex-husband to be, who discouraged me from ever trying to write because he thought I wasn't good enough. His problem is that he writes academically and I don't so we clashed many, many times and it took me a long time to be able to start writing stories in spite of him.

I think that if I found someone I could trust enough to read it with a critical eye and yet not try to put their own stamp on it, then I would probably go for it but until then, I'll just stick to writing alone :)
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Me: No, I'll enforce it from beyond the grave
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby Simpatico » 17 Feb 2010, 07:48

I think it depends on the individual writer.

Some writers like the accountability and having someone waiting for each piece spurs them on to keep writing, which can be very helpful. And some people can use the instant feedback to help them avoid painful rewrites later on.

But some writers don’t like to share their first drafts and that’s what’s good for them. Often we don’t like our own rough work and showing it to someone else can be daunting, to say the least.

Plus, I think that in order to show a first draft with any confidence, a writer needs to have a firm grasp of the writing skills needed, as well as a strong vision for their story.

Also, I feel it depends on who you’re showing it to.

I don’t think you should show it to just anyone. If you show it to anyone, I think it’s better to show it to someone who is also a writer and understands the trials and tribulations inherent in the condition.

But even writers come in different styles and stages. Your reader has to understand how to give feedback and be able to keep their own ego out of it. I think they should also be well-read in whatever genre you’re writing in.

As for me, I like having a reader for my first drafts. Since I have a demanding full-time job, it’s easy for me to put my writing off sometimes. But when I know have someone expecting something from me every week, I wind up becoming more productive.

Different strokes for different folks.
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby Seamus » 17 Feb 2010, 08:44

My experience is like Simpatico's. I like first draft input because it gives you a deadline and it serves as a reality check as you move along. My writer's group (now no more) read one or two chapters of my first manuscript at a time. We were comfortable enough with each other that they could say, "you're doing it again," and I would know what they meant. I could also say, "yeah, but that's just because you hate this kind of thing," and there would be no hurt feelings. Now, on my second piece, I am working alone. The work is going slower and the piece is a little less disciplined in general. I can still hear their voices when i'm doing that thing again, but it remains to be seen whether I can produce something without training wheels. Through this process and various, more comprehensive readings, I developed a strong sense of the things that I could let go and I could not. Instead of making me more vulnerable, it taught me both strength and humility, treating all comments as gifts, but able to discern what comments rang true. Good luck.
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby JustineDell » 17 Feb 2010, 09:43

dementedtinkerbell wrote:I see your point. The only person I have to read my work currently is my ex-husband to be, who discouraged me from ever trying to write because he thought I wasn't good enough. His problem is that he writes academically and I don't so we clashed many, many times and it took me a long time to be able to start writing stories in spite of him.

I think that if I found someone I could trust enough to read it with a critical eye and yet not try to put their own stamp on it, then I would probably go for it but until then, I'll just stick to writing alone :)


He said that??!?! Did you punch him ;-) ? That's just awful, but I'm glad you saw the difference in your writing and decided to keep going! It's tough finding someone who can help and not push you too much. Then again, you can't let yourself be pushed either. I learned that in my critique group, where I write mainstream and they write series romance. There's more difference than you would think. But they helped nonetheless.

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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby dementedtinkerbell » 17 Feb 2010, 12:57

Oh yeah, he really said that. I didn't punch him though, I just ignored him which infuriated him far more than a punch would have. Besides, he's a black belt in Karate and I really didn't want to go there xD
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Me: No, I'll enforce it from beyond the grave
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby Nick » 17 Feb 2010, 13:02

Should you? Maybe. In fact I'm sure there are those who would even make the case that you ought to. Wasn't there something about alpha readers somewhere hereabouts?

Me, I never share nothing until I feel it's good and finished. Ideally, it wouldn't be good and finished until it's bound and published, but I recognize the nature of things, so until I feel content with the manuscript -- that is, I feel the story is more or less complete and there aren't terribly many issues apparent with it to mine eyes -- no one but me sees it. I do talk about it a bit, but not really horribly much.
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby marilyn peake » 17 Feb 2010, 14:27

I think, like practically everything else in writing, it depends on the individual writer. I rarely share my work before the first draft is completed to the point where I think it could possibly be a final draft. I do it this way because it helps me stay focused and motivated enough to complete the project. I’ve discovered that different people usually have very different ideas about where a novel or short story should go before it’s done, and that interferes with my remaining focused on the story I want to tell. After I finish writing a novel or short story, I’m completely open to doing huge amounts of editing on it, even making major cuts and changes to the manuscript, but at least I have the initial structure completed.
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby christi » 17 Feb 2010, 15:54

As others have said, it depends on the writer and the readers. For my latest one, I had a group of seven people: three writer friends, three avid readers of my genre that were also friends, and one 13 year old boy who had never met me who is the son of a supervisor at my job. I got my feedback from him via the supervisor who isn't the sort to pull punches, plus he didn't know me so didn't have to worry about my feelings. I wrote it a chapter at a time and gave out copies, then got feedback from all. The writers for grammar, pacing, etc. and the readers for 'is it interesting?' 'do you understand it?' 'which characters need more development?' issues. It's a YA urban fantasy, so I was mostly concerned with 'does this make sense?' and 'what trips you up about the world?' Having instant feedback like I did helped me tremendously, I think, and helped me kill any plot holes right up front before I got too deep.
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby Holly » 17 Feb 2010, 21:55

hannah_dreamergirl_3 wrote:Other than my dad and my best friend I have NEVER shown anyone what I'm working on atm, I'm about a third of the way through and was wondering if you think it's a good idea to get people to read over your work as your going?

Thanks,

Hannah
X


I understand that you're a young writer. Do what feels comfortable and makes you happy. You can always change your mind tomorrow.

My confidence grew as time went by. My novel is pretty good, but it's not perfect. Other people can see flaws that I can't see. When they give me constructive criticism, they're not criticizing me as a person. I welcome criticism today. Since my goal is publication, and I can't see all the flaws in my writing, it's important to ask other people to read it. Friends and family are usually not the best critics. While they might enjoy the story, they are probably not as skilled as people who've written or edited for years, and they don't want to hurt your feelings. Other writers who are honest and respectful make the best readers.

I also joined this wonderful writing workshop: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/ A literary agent named Colleen Lindsay recommended it on her website.

sff.onlinewritingworkshop is for science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and costs $49 a year. It's password protected. You can put chapters up, other writers review your work, and you review their work in return. You can take your work down at any time. Two days ago I posted a chapter and received six detailed reviews.
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby GabbyP » 18 Feb 2010, 12:21

Well, I look at it like homemade waffles. I can let someone dip their finger into the lumpy batter, and I can spend time explaining that the finished product will be lighter, fluffier, tastier, smell like heaven, and will gently hold tiny pools of butter and maple syrup within the crispy indentations.

Or, I can feed someone a forkful of my homemade fluffy, crispy waffles, hot from the waffle iron, and dripping with ooey-gooey deliciousness....and watch to see if their eyeballs roll into the back of their head....

I'm just saying....
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby Ermo » 19 Feb 2010, 14:20

I love feedback. I'll share it with just about anyone, although I prefer other writers that give full critiques. I've actually changed the direction of plot based on reviews I've received because I liked them so much. It depends on the kind of person you are, obviously, but I just throw out the stuff I don't like, keep the stuff I like, and let the manuscript meander with each successive review. It's also a great motivator for me to know that someone will read my stuff.
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Re: Should you share your writing before it's finished?

Postby francoag44 » 19 Feb 2010, 17:15

At first I shared each chapter of my book with friends and family members, but after receiving several conflicting comments, I decided to complete my MS before sending it out for further review. The story takes on a life of its own, branching out as characters develop and the plot unfolds, with so much change ,it is better to wait. Since I'll have to edit the first draft anyway, I'd rather get opinions on the finished product. IMHO.
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