Who has read your WIP?

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cheekychook
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Who has read your WIP?

Post by cheekychook » July 15th, 2010, 1:07 am

I was reading through the comments on Nathan's blog about whether or not writers think they're any good and I came across a lot of posts about how "friends and family members offer so much praise it makes a lot of writers think they're great". This got me to wondering about exactly who people choose to have read their WIP.

I've been writing all sorts of stuff my entire life. I took college courses in creative writing and screenwriting, I've kept journals, written fiction and poetry (even had a few poems and short stories published in small lit mags). I prolifically post on message boards about subjects ranging from The Bachelor to restaurant reviews. I write a lot. No one in my family reads anything I write, save for the occasional email. With very few exceptions none of my friends do either.

I have been working on my WIP since January. It reached completion at around 130k words and I've since edited and re-edited it down to slightly over 100k words. I've put a LOT of time into it. I know it still needs a bit of work, and I find it impossible to imagine that I'll ever get to the point where I'll read a page without changing at least some teeny-tiny detail, but I'm overall quite pleased with how it's coming.

I have one friend who has read every page I've written since I penned the first one back in January, largely because she's the one who encouraged me to write this novel in the first place. No one else read a single word until I was almost 3/4 done with my first draft, in March. At that point I joined a local critique group; I knew no one in the group. All six members have now read (and critiqued) the majority of it.

In May I emailed another friend of mine and told her about my writing group. She asked what everyone was writing so I sent her 4 sample first chapters from the group (including mine, but I didn't tell her one of them was mine). She chose mine as her favorite, so I told her that particular one was complete and asked if she wanted the rest (it wasn't exactly a lie...). She did, so I sent it to her. I finally broke down and told her it was mine when she was about 2/3 the way through reading.

I now have a wonderful critique partner (who I found courtesy of this forum) who has read my whole MS. Her input has been invaluable, but we met as beta readers and became friends in the process, not the other way around.

My husband has no idea I've written a novel. Neither does my mother, my sister-in-law, most of my closest friends.... I haven't told them. I would never ask them to be readers for me, at least not at the early stage. Why? I wouldn't want to put that kind of pressure on any of them. And, selfishly, I don't think their responses would be that helpful because I know they'd be colored by their desire to spare my feelings even if they hated what I wrote.

To summarize, I'm not a total newbie when it comes to writing, but for my current WIP I've had 2 friends, 1 online beta, and 6 crit group members as my readers. That's it.

I get the feeling this may make me a bit...unusual (not that there's anything wrong with that). So, tell me, who has read your WIP? At what stage of writing did you give it to them to read? Who else will you ask for input before you start sending it out/querying?
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Quill
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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by Quill » July 15th, 2010, 1:30 am

Wait a minute. You've spent, like, a thousand hours writing a novel and your hubbie has no clue? What does he think you are doing, answering emails?

No one has seen any of my WIP to date. It has been through 4 drafts. A couple more drafts and it will be ready to share.

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cheekychook
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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by cheekychook » July 15th, 2010, 1:39 am

I said he doesn't know I've written a novel, not that he doesn't know I write---like I said, I write a lot, and he's well aware of that. I'm at the computer for a great many reasons, and I'm up way, way, way past everyone else in my house's bed time. It's not a secret, it's more of a he hasn't asked, I haven't told thing. He knows I go to my weekly crit group meetings, he just hasn't asked if I'm going just as a reader or as a submitter as well. He hasn't read any of my well-over-5000 msg board posts either, and I'm guessing he's hoping to keep it that way! LOL
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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by ladymarella » July 15th, 2010, 2:32 am

When my WIP is finished I'm giving it to my best friend because I absolutely trust her to give a ruthless critique of the entire thing. Also she's been the one I'm running most of my ideas past as I'm writing it.
Currently composing a sprawling family saga set in 19th century England
The world may be divided into people that read, people that write, people that think, and fox-hunters.'- William Shenstone,

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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by Heather B » July 15th, 2010, 6:08 am

My work has only been read by two people; my two best friends. One of them loves everything but offers key advice for things that just don't seem real/right (even though she still loves those parts, of course).
The other ruthlessly scribbles out scenes, offers advice, feedback and WTFs, where appropriate.

The first, only read them when they were more or less finished, the second has been there the whole way.
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Holly
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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by Holly » July 15th, 2010, 7:08 am

Great topic.

Who's seen my WIP? So far, wow, I guess lots of people. The more, the better.

My beloved late husband, who died last year because of a medical error. He was so great for feedback and wouldn't mince around ("If that really happened, you would NOT say that," or "This goes on and on too much -- you need to cut about half of it."). When he gave me a compliment, I knew he meant it.

An elderly family friend in another state who writes children's stories with horrible rambling sentences. Ramblingitis. I would take out all the swear words first, ha ha.

My best friend. She's not a writer, but she's good for brainstorming sessions.

A local professional writer who used to write a newspaper column. She gave me good feedback on my first draft, but then said the last quarter of the novel didn't need any corrections -- I know she didn't read it. And I paid her to read it, which is really bad. Live and learn.

The writers on http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com This is a password protected critique workshop that costs $49 a year. I posted a few chapters and received amazing feedback. Highly recommend this site. Several literary agents recommend it, too. The downside: you really should return the crits (you don't have to, but you should) and you might end up with a million to do on a weekend.

My once-a-month critique group has read a few excerpts. They're a mix of amateurs and professionals who give terrific feedback.

A writer/editor friend that I paid to go over the whole thing a few months ago. She just won an award for her new book, plus she edits work for a literary magazine. She's the wrong kind of editor for me -- too formal -- but she caught a structural error that I'm fixing now, so I'm really grateful to her.

A wonderful, in-the-trenches critique partner I found here on Nathan's forums. He's giving me great feedback for character reactions and has had some great suggestions while I slog through my latest version. He's also willing to read the same thing over and over while I revise.

AND -- I almost forgot -- I entered the first page/first paragraph/first sentence in critiques on the Miss Snark's First Victim site http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/

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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by AnimaDictio » July 15th, 2010, 7:33 am

I'm the only writer in my social circle. I've written professionally for years (political stuff) so my friends appear to have a vague expectation that I'll produce a book one day. The idea, however, that the book would be fiction -- urban fantasy, no less -- would send eyes rolling.

Later this year, I plan to start a blog and I began writing articles for it earlier this year. The blog is religious in nature so I sent the articles to my dad, the preacher, and a couple other preachers I know. I received wonderful feedback from all. But, again, I know that these men would have absolutely no interest in my novel.

I plan to show the novel to my girlfriend at some point, but I know she hasn't the stamina for multiple readings so I'll probably wait until the third draft or so. In the meanwhile, I have Melissa, who I met here. Thanks Nathan!

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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by dios4vida » July 15th, 2010, 11:17 am

I'm the only writer in my circle, too. My Mom and my husband are my beta readers, and neither of them worry about sparing my feelings. I've gotten plenty of "this really needs a lot of work" or "this just stinks" from them. (Even if they tried to spare my feelings I would hound them for details until their true feelings came out.) My Dad has also read my books, but just for the fun of reading them rather than editing/critiquing.

I don't let anyone see anything of my WIP until I've gone through a complete self-edit of the first draft. I finish the book, print it out and attack with my red pen, then go back to the computer and fix all the changes. After one more read-through I give it to Mom and Brian (husband).

I'd love to be part of a critique group but due to medical issues and distance from town (I live a good 20 miles outside of the city and I can't drive) I don't have the option of doing that. In a strange way it's been a blessing because I've learned to become a lot more critical of my own work, so I push just a little harder to make it really, really good on my own. I've grown a lot as a writer because of that.
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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by Down the well » July 16th, 2010, 2:06 pm

Wow, it's so interesting to read how other people traverse this crazy writing journey.

I'm one of those people who will not, can not, share a first draft with anyone. For two reasons:

First, I don't like my writing being judged on what I feel is an inferior product. I do some revision as I write, but I also allow myself to write a lot of crap along the way. I know I'm coming through with a pooper-scooper later so I let it build up a bit. I mean, you have to let it sit awhile to know if it's crap or fertilizer, right?

And second, I'm leery of getting feedback too early in the process on ideas that might not be fully developed yet. Though critiquer's are well intentioned when giving advice, they aren't always right. Often they are, and I do listen, but until I know my story well enough (after at least one serious revision) I can't fully recognize the value of their comments. I know, I'm odd.

What I will do sometimes is float a test balloon. I'll post a page or two online to get feed back. Or I'll enter a contest that offers paid critiques. That way I do get a measure of how far off the mark I am while still in the middle of the process.

However, once I have polished the ms enough that I feel I can share it, that's what I do. In the past I've let my sister -- who is a librarian -- read my entire ms. I've also had two long-distance on-line critique partners (also writers), one good, one great. I'm comfortable with two or three trusted readers because, rightly or wrongly, I don't want my ms turned into something written by committee. I want input, but only so much. Again, I know I"m odd. :)

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cheekychook
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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by cheekychook » July 16th, 2010, 2:27 pm

I totally agree that you shouldn't try to incorporate critique until you've got a firm grasp on what you're writing. One member of my crit group offers extremely tough critique, to everyone--- not for the faint of heart. Usually the points are valid and most times the writer will wind up seeing the merit of the comment, but the few times that someone has been willing to go to the mat defending their choice the tough critiquer has backed off with a smile and said "Good answer, you've convinced me". Sometimes critique is pointing out what's wrong and other times it's something that makes you more certain what you've written is right. The important thing is to listen to the input you receive and allow it to help you determine which is which.

I haven't found any of the responses on this thread to be any odder than my own. I am, however, quite please to see how many of us have found awesome critique partners through this forum---THANK YOU NATHAN!! :)
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sarahdee
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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by sarahdee » July 17th, 2010, 10:55 pm

My poor husband reads but only in a proofreader capacity. I say poor as he only reads a few books a year and none in my genre given the choice but he picks up my typos for me!

I have two friends who are not writers (well one is a blogger) but big readers and they give general feedback. Not on the writing style but if they were confused or thought a situation was unlikely they tell me their thoughts which has spurred me to rewrite some parts or add extra explanations.

Its currently with a family member who has a degree in creative writing and I hope will be harsher than my friends (who are too nice).

I have sent to a possible critique partner on here but not heard back yet (this was only last week)

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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by craig » July 17th, 2010, 11:14 pm

My mom gives me the best critiques. She has no issues with telling me if something flat-out sucks. She is ruthless with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence flow. She likes to read, but hates to read something that doesn't excite her, so she points out all the sections that are slow or could use work.

I've internalised a lot of her critiques and have become even more ruthless on my own work than she is. She now gets me to edit her homework because I'm the brutal editor in the family now.

Outside of my mom and I, I've had a couple friends and family members read my stuff -- but invariably, they offer little to no feedback because they don't want to hurt my feelings (when, really, I crave constructive criticism).

With my current WIP, I'm putting together a mental list of who I want to approach as readers -- my mom, of course, and a couple of the non-helpful family members since they love to read my stuff. But none of them read sci-fi -- so it's only helpful to a point. I think I've got a new friend that would be perfect -- we think a lot alike, he is very good at picking apart what I say and addressing problems, and he's a sci-fi nerd with tons of time on his hands -- so I'll be hitting him up. I've also got a few new friends who are big into sci-fi -- I don't know their criticism style or how helpful they'll be, but having a few more sci-fi fans reading my stuff will be helpful I think.

And I don't show anyone my work till it's near done. I find that I have too many big edits to do -- as I write, I think back and can name all the sections that have to be touched up to remain consistent with the sentences I'm currently typing out.

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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by PaulWoodlin » July 18th, 2010, 8:19 am

After I went to the Odyssey Writer's Workshop, I went back to three of the workshop reunions, which is a week long writing workshop they have for graduates of the main workshop, mostly critiquing each others' work.

When I lived in Portland, OR, I went to writers' groups, one occasionally with Jay Lake but more regularly one with David Levine.

But now I live in China, so if I feel the need for a critique, I email it to a friend of mine who is a published writer (three books and counting) and always hungry for a free novel to read.

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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by heyimkt » July 18th, 2010, 6:37 pm

I have two beta readers and a few specific friends that read my stuff. For me, this is the perfect amount. I'm able to keep everything organized with edits and revisions, but at the same time get enough different views to get a great overall critique. I also love how each one of them is completely different from the next and so they're suggestions all touch on separate aspects of one issue or topic. I don't let any of my family read it. Haha, I mean, none of them really ask to, but even when they do...I say no. I think if I did, I wouldn't get completely honest opinions and, in my opinion, it'd be weird. I don't know why. I've always been nervous about that.
As far as when I give my stuff out, it's usually when it's a third to halfway completed, if it's a WIP. If it's completed, then I toss it out there.
I think it's a great idea to have a lot of people you trust review it, and making sure that they are all completely different. I've built a sort of foundation, I think, that has really helped me this past year with my writing. Go beta readers! hahah

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Re: Who has read your WIP?

Post by sarahdee » July 19th, 2010, 2:23 am

PaulWoodlin wrote:After I went to the Odyssey Writer's Workshop, I went back to three of the workshop reunions, which is a week long writing workshop they have for graduates of the main workshop, mostly critiquing each others' work.

When I lived in Portland, OR, I went to writers' groups, one occasionally with Jay Lake but more regularly one with David Levine.

But now I live in China, so if I feel the need for a critique, I email it to a friend of mine who is a published writer (three books and counting) and always hungry for a free novel to read.
Do you miss the groups? I'm in the Philippines and I miss not having any groups or anything I can go to. I'd give my right arm some days to go on a writers course/weekend to get some ideas but its just not feasible.

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