When do you seek outside opinion?

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When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by klbritt » August 1st, 2012, 11:24 am

Out of pure curiosity, when do you (as a writer - not in general) seek the opinion of others on your WIP? Do you wait until you've written the first draft? Or maybe after you've edited 3-4 times? Then, after you've had it read by others and edited again (I'm sure), what do you (personally) do next? I'm just curious what everyone does in this aspect.


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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by Sommer Leigh » August 1st, 2012, 11:38 am

Normally I wait until I'm done with the first draft (but the way I write, I edit as I go, so the first draft looks more like a second or third when I'm done.) However, I do have my husband and a friend read as a write. They help me work through problems I've run into and point out weird errors I didn't notice on my own or things that don't make sense. Normally I do not seek out professional opinion like critiques and edits from other writers until I've got a pretty clean version and I need assistance to go further.

Last March I went to Bransforum meetup and we exchanged chapters to critique. My manuscript wasn't done yet, so that was weird getting feedback on something I hadn't finished.

I personally don't like sharing until I've worked out the issues I already know are present. I don't want to waste anyone's time.
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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by polymath » August 1st, 2012, 12:02 pm

I work and rework until I'm comfortable a work is ready for a trial audience. Writing begins within and moves outward: inspiration, preplanning, planning, drafting, rewriting, revision, reworking, preparation for an audience, trial publication, revision, publication. Not taking an audience into account is one of many shortcomings causing struggling writers frustrations.
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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by CharleeVale » August 1st, 2012, 12:19 pm

I write fairly clean first drafts, so I do it after the first draft. I send it to my Alpha reader/CP. (and there are still many typos. Much to Seabrooke's annoyance I'm sure)

Then I'll do some revisions, especially since the alpha reading time has given me some distance. Then I'll take it to my general writing group, where I can get various opinions. Then possibly more revisions, and then Betas)


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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by LizV » August 1st, 2012, 1:00 pm

I also write fairly clean first drafts, and I prefer to find & fix problems before I build on them, so I run each chapter by my alpha reader as I finish it. (My chapters usually average around 5K words, so it's a hefty enough chunk of text for her to sink her teeth into.) When the novel's done, Alpha and I both read the whole thing through and discuss the big picture as well as the details.

Ideally, at that point, I would also have somebody else go over the whole thing who hasn't seen any of it before, but finding another pair or three of eyes that I can rely on is... well, that's still a work in progress. ;)

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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by Shipple » August 2nd, 2012, 7:44 am

That's actually evolving for me. At first, I'd give the novel to my sister or mother once I had a first draft. Now, however, I've realized it's probably not worth their while until I have a second draft because I can at least make it more easy to read throughout the course of the second draft, and, unfortunately, there's still plenty to work on and improve for a third or even forth draft.

And then there's the people I won't give it to until I have it in a shape that I"m really proud of. They're getting it when I think it's ready to go out, but maybe it's not and maybe they'll give me some good suggestions before I ruin all my chances with agents.
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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by dios4vida » August 2nd, 2012, 11:18 am

I write true sh*tty first drafts, so once I finish that I edit once, print it out, do a full red-line and hardcore edit, and then one more quick read-through for typos and continuity. Then it goes to my critique partner. Before that, no one reads it but me. If I have to appeal to my Plotmaster (husband) for help working out plot issues, I just explain the situation to him. It's faster than him reading it, and it also forces me to have answers to questions he poses, thereby making sure all of my intentions/backstory/logical flow of progression are clear in my head, if not on paper.

Generally it ends up working out that when I don't know how to make it any better on my own, that's when I look for someone else's opinion.
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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by Claudie » August 3rd, 2012, 12:18 am

I'm very close to dios4vida in this aspect. My first drafts are most often big fat messes and nobody gets to see them. I'll rewrite the entire novel at least once, then do a quick pass for obvious mistakes before I show it to anyone. When I'm stuck I bounce ideas off my own Sidekick (AKA, the boyfriend), who also happens to have a knack for detecting any basic logical fails (the kind of tiny details most people miss but that is truly basic logic and would make one gaping plothole).

I agree with Sommer that having a critique in March on something that wasn't finished was kind of weird. Very useful but a strange feeling. On the other hand, my WIPs had never been critiqued by fellow writers in this fashion before, so that might have contributed. But I definitely agree that you shouldn't present something you know has glaring errors in it, unless you can't put your fingers on the errors and need help in that regards. If you can fix it, do so before you waste your partners' time.
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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by Hillsy » August 3rd, 2012, 5:15 am

I actually fall a bit naturally into Brandon Sanderson's method, in as much that I do a first draft, then a heavy line edit, then it's ready to go out to the Alpha readers to pick apart.....though to be fair I've never had an alpha reader before creating the crit group with Dios4Vida a couple of months ago (none of my friends read an awful lot really except my wife and she hates SF/F - and none of them are writers) so prior to this I've largely had to be my own writing group...hence I've had a few trunk novels I've built, edited and then kinda left without anyone seeing them.

In terms of drafting - I write a pretty...err...gaudy(?) first draft, but thankfully I build structure pretty cleanly. So most of the scenes tend to do the right things, are in the right place and have the right kind of ooomph in them. However, I overwirte terribly. The first MS I finished was 287K long. In the first edit I took 87K off, about 30K through culling 2 chapters and the rest purely through prose. 57000 extraneous words of description, backstory, navel gazing and gaudy purple prose. I've got better now but I still overwrite then chisel back later.

I do, however, write pretty clean 2nd draft. I edit very, very slow so even after one pass I've picked the sentence I'm happy with 95 times out of a hundred. And also because I tend to get smacked with massive bouts of "literally no one is going to read this!" I'll go huge periods without writing anything down. This actually works in my favour because during those downtimes my brain still writes, so it soldifies the themes, motives, character and so on that I haven't got yet. By the time I finish the draft I've got a really firm grip on what I've written and where it's going. Which means that 1st edit almost does 2 jobs at once: Language editing and structural editing.

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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by AnimaDictio » August 3rd, 2012, 11:20 am

I have a critique group that sees my writing every month. What I show them has been rewritten probably once or twice. No one else will ever see it until I send it to an editor.

I'll give my wife and close friends a copy once it's published. None of them would be able to appreciate a work that wasn't already of publishable quality so it's best not to involve them before then.

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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by LurkingVirologist » August 4th, 2012, 7:02 pm

Hillsy wrote:I've got better now but I still overwrite then chisel back later.
I do the same on first drafts. I like having the extra raw material around for that first edit, knowing that I'll toss a lot of it, but probably find a few gems in there I might not have put down if I was going for a 'clean' first draft. Needless to say, nobody gets to see anything until I've gone over it twice.
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Re: When do you seek outside opinion?

Post by JohnDurvin » August 8th, 2012, 12:55 am

I always do a re-write or two before showing anybody anything, because of something I learned from critiques in art school: before asking other's opinions, take your work and see what you think they're going to say, regardless of what you think. If it's really obvious, you should probably fix it.
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