Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

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sbs_mjc1
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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by sbs_mjc1 » August 7th, 2010, 12:06 pm

Mike is much more sharing than I am-- he has gone out and recruited beta readers from among our mutual friends, etc. The reason I tend not to talk about a WiP is the deluge of unwanted advice that ensues about plot, publishing, writing habits, etc. (For example: One person suggested to Mike, in all seriousness, that he query publishers--not agents-- by telling them the book was super-commercial and going to sell a bazillion copies. Another person told me to send sections of the manuscript straight to publishers, because we'd be taken more seriously that way.)
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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by cheekychook » August 7th, 2010, 2:46 pm

The following IM conversation is an excerpt from a chat I had with my lifelong BFF the other day---we've been friends for over 25 years, he's one of the smartest people I've ever met, he's more like family than friend at this point---he also clearly illustrates a major reason why I don't tend to discuss my WIPs with my friends (or family, for that matter). He knows I'm working on a novel, and he knows I have no intention of letting him read it until it is 100% done (as in no more edits, no more changes, no-I-don't-need-your-input-because-it's-too-late-for-that kind of done).

BFF: So, how's the book going?
Me: Good. Finished another round of rewrites, now I'm working on my query letter.
BFF: What's the first sentence of your query?
Me: Daniel Gardner has never understood why women find him attractive---he's always thought of himself as a bit of a dork.
BFF: Does Daniel look like Michael? (note: Michael is a mutual friend)
Me: Uhhhh, no, not at all.
BFF: Does he look like Eric? (another friend)
Me: No.
BFF: What does he look like?
Me: Tall, thin, distinctive features, dark hair---attractive
BFF: So he looks like Tom? (almost bf from my past)
Me: LOL, no. He's not based on any particular person.
BFF: All characters are an amalgamation of people we know.
Me: Yes, but trust me, he's a figment of my imagination. He has no more chance of occurring in nature than Edward Cullen. It's fiction.
BFF: So he's your perfect fantasy guy?
Me: He's apparently lots of womens' fantasy guy---several female readers have told me they'd have slept with him by page 8.
BFF: I don't like him.
Me: And you wonder why I don't let you read as I go? I give you one sentence, of the query no less, and already all you're doing is trying to figure out who the character's is based on and getting jealous of a fictional guy.
BFF: Well does he HAVE to be attractive?
Me: (insert raised eyebrow emoticon)
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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by maybegenius » August 7th, 2010, 3:12 pm

I keep mine pretty close to the chest, though I do talk about it if people inquire. Usually I just say, "I'm writing a young adult steampunk novel," which tends to get me responses ranging from "What's steampunk?" to "I hear steampunk's really hot right now."

If people ask me what it's about, my canned answer is, "A 16-year old girl from Chicago in 1901 whose father is murdered. Plus cyborgs." If I'm talking with other writers or practicing my pitch, I'll go into more detail.

My family and friends amuse me. Half of them go, "Can I read it yet?" and the other half go "DON'T TELL ME, DON'T TELL ME! I want to be surprised when I read it!"
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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by Aurelius » August 7th, 2010, 5:29 pm

I tend to talk about it with two people - one, a best friend from school, and the other, another best friend who is a writer herself. The writer is great to talk to because we can talk about the development of the story. The other friend I just talk to about everything. And also there's the fact that neither of them would ever take an idea of mine; the one doesn't write, and the other writes things that are completely different and is working on her own work.

I don't post about it anywhere, although a good while ago I posted about 3 excerpts of a WIP on a locked blog, just to see if that was helpful to my process. It was ok - nice to get a bit of feedback - but I realized quickly that for me, the best thing to do is just write, and then if I get to a stage where the thing is almost to the "polishing" stage or in it, *then* I would want feedback of a constructive editing sort from maybe one or two people. But that's just how I work.

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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by xouba » August 7th, 2010, 7:25 pm

Well, I mostly keep my WIP to myself because I'm ashamed that other people know that I want to write. I think they'll roll their eyes and think: "yes, as if". Or they'll ask to see some of my writing and then look at me pitifully, shaking their heads. Or think I'm pretentious and tell me to spend my time on something more useful, like vacuuming the floor or sleeping.

(Self-steem problems, me? Noooo, no way ;-))

If I had something worthy to show, then I'll be happy to say that I want to write. And even so, I wouldn't show my WIP. It can change very much before it's done, and showing it too early will only spoil the good parts. Once they had read the WIP, they might not want to read the finished work. I wouldn't either, to be sincere. If you want my opinion on something concrete, yes, show me your WIP; but if you want to impress me, show me your finished work. Don't give me half-baked food, I want to taste the real thing.

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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by xouba » August 7th, 2010, 7:39 pm

dios4vida wrote:Does anyone else ever get frustrated with not being able to tell at least someone?
Awfully! I've sometimes tried to tell, but either:

a) I swamp my interlocutor with data about my WIP, and don't really say anything meaningful.
b) I detect that they're not really interested and are asking purely out of good manners (which I totally approve; you can't blame people for being gentle), and spare them the pain by just telling a general idea.
dios4vida wrote:I do prefer to keep my plots to myself until I send my ms out to my betas, but aren't there times when you're just bursting to tell?!
Specially when you've had a new idea that changes everything, or ties all the loose knots that you had. You want to run around yelling "eureka", but alas, it's not possible: you are at work, or in the grocery, or waiting for the bus, and you don't want to make a scandal.
dios4vida wrote:I feel like some of the people who have high-clearance jobs - they come home and can't tell their wives/husbands what they did at work today. I'm so excited about my new WIP but no one can know why... :(
Hey, this is a writers' forum, do tell what's so exciting. I promise to read it with a straight face and smile in the end like I give my full approval. I might even show some teeth.

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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by dios4vida » August 8th, 2010, 2:59 pm

xouba wrote:Well, I mostly keep my WIP to myself because I'm ashamed that other people know that I want to write. I think they'll roll their eyes and think: "yes, as if". Or they'll ask to see some of my writing and then look at me pitifully, shaking their heads. Or think I'm pretentious and tell me to spend my time on something more useful, like vacuuming the floor or sleeping.

(Self-steem problems, me? Noooo, no way ;-))
I've been there myself, xouba. It's a hard thing to face someone with a "serious" job and tell that that you're writing a novel, because they consider it to be such a pipe dream or that it's your excuse to be lazy and not have a "real job." It's infuriating, degrading, and among the worst feelings EVER. But if writing is who you are and what you love, none of us should be ashamed of it. Writing is a wholly creative and individual craft, an art, a science, a passion, and so much harder than a lot of 9-5 jobs I've held. But it's also so much more rewarding. If they don't understand, it's their loss and nothing against you. (Besides, I've learned that a lot of people scorn our work because they're jealous - everyone wants to write a book, but only a few of us sit down and write. You should be proud of that!)
Brenda :)

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Mark
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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by Mark » August 11th, 2010, 3:09 am

Some nice replies here, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the answers are 'yes', 'no', and 'sort of'. Quite the mixed bag of writers on this site.

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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by Sommer Leigh » August 11th, 2010, 8:35 am

No I don't keep it to myself exactly, but I don't talk about it with a lot of people either.

I mean, I have a blog. And a Facebook. And a Twitter. I mention it on the blog all the time, on Facebook sometimes, and on Twitter when I can be bothered to update it. With my nearest and dearest friends it comes up at dinner sometimes, or when we're playing Xbox games, or when I need to vent. My best friend has read 235 pages of it while my husband has read every word, rewritten chapter, and listened to every cry, rant, and scream. A couple of people at work know that I write because we are friends outside of work, but it was admitted under duress with much blushing and embarrassment and shyness. For them, at no point did I say "I'm writing a young adult dystopian speculative horror about zombies. But not really about zombies. There just happens to be zombies in the world, it's really about the people trying to survive and the lengths people will go to to take advantage of their neighbors." I've made this mistake before and received reactions ranging from blank, glassy eyed stares to contorted facial expressions that scream 'That's kind of stupid.' to "Do you think that's appropriate for teenagers?" to "Shouldn't you be writing something your own age?"

And while I have no trouble standing up for myself as a writer, my genre, my out-there love for monsters and survival fiction, and my audience, there's only so many times you can have the conversation before you just can't have it anymore.
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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by Emily J » August 11th, 2010, 11:26 am

My answer has changed in just the last week or so.

I usually keep any WiP quiet, for a variety of reasons. I never thought it was helpful to get feedback until I had done a few edits and had a more polished product for review. There is also the fact that I don't even finish all my WiPs, I have had a few manuscripts discarded along the way which I may or may not return to at some future point.

But I have a friend who has become a die-hard fan of my writing. So much so that after reading the third book in a series I am working on he keeps pestering me for the next book to know how it's all going to end (there wasn't a cliff-hanger or anything, I'm not that evil). Just recently I sent him the first chapter of my WiP, the 4th book in this series. He devoured that and is already asking for more even though I haven't finished chapter 2 yet.

I was worried about showing something so raw, but after reflection I think this is actually beneficial for my writing. Having someone bugging me for more has given me an incentive to stick to my writing schedule and as a result I have been a lot more productive on this manuscript so far than in others past. And now, if I let this manuscript fall by the wayside there is someone who is going to give me hell about it. I think it's a good motivational tactic (not that I planned it lol).

So I guess my answer is no, I don't keep my WiP to myself. Not anymore.

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Re: Do you keep your WIP to yourself?

Post by MedleyMisty » August 11th, 2010, 9:41 pm

I publish mine on my blog, so...definitely not. LOL. :)

But then I am all open and extroverted and have no interest in getting paid for writing at the moment. Money can't compare to the rush of a good stats page day and...let's see, I reply to most of the comments so divide by 2 - 1430 comments from readers. :) That's on the blog - got threads at other sites full of comments.

I mean - do I want to sit here writing all by myself, or do I want to hear from the reader who gathered everyone around the computer at her daughter's Halloween party so they could read what I had up so far? Me, I choose being part of a vibrant creative community.

I've just started writing full text - my old stuff is stories illustrated with pics from the Sims game. And the Sims story community - we're all very open and up into each other's creative process. We bounce ideas off each other, reply to each other's posts about writing the story, show teaser pics on Twitter, ask for critique. And we all publish our stuff serially. You know, like Dickens. ;) And we comment on each update, and everyone gets ideas and discovers more about their story by reading and replying to those comments and seeing how readers perceive things. And occasionally, we become friends. Sometimes close friends. :)

Another Sims writer put it this way - our stories are alive. :)

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