1. Lilith Addington
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    Lilith Addington Member

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    At what stage do you post your writing to have it critiqued?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Lilith Addington, Apr 14, 2016.

    I'm just curious - when you post your story for a critique, what stage is it in? Do you post your rough drafts, fresh from your computer files? Do you simply edit out all the grammar mistakes before posting? Do you do everything you can to edit, revise, and generally improve your writing before posting it?
    I'm asking because I've been pondering posting some of my novel to get it critiqued, but I know there's so much editing I can do myself that I feel like I should wait until I'm stuck on revising and really need some new opinions.
     
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  2. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    You don't post whole novels here. You do excerpts. I'd pick a few key scenes, that are either in strong need or that you hope are good. Maybe a few chapters but it's really better if it's not all in one big chunk. So basically, whenever the section is at a satisfactory level. I tend to fiddle with it quite a bit but not a particularly large amount. That's what critique is for.
     
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  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    IMO, you should edit the hell out of it before you submit it.

    I've written a detailed critique on quite a few occasions only to have it dismissed because "it's just something I knocked out in a hurry, I knew there were SPAG issues all over the place, so stop being a *!#?ing grammar Nazi and just review the general flow". This sort of reaction misses the point that the SPAG issues actually get in the way of the flow. Your plot, general flow, etc., is rarely so original that anybody will go Wow! It's ALL about HOW you tell your story.

    So, if the SPAG issues really get in the way of the story, my policy now is to walk away.
     
  4. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    I'd recommend getting it to a point where you don't know what else to do with it. If there's still stuff you can do, making those changes may give you a new perspective and help you solve whatever problem you're dealing with.
     
  5. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Agreed, look at it for a bit and fix whatever problems you can find. But I would say you can't spend forever trying to find those problems. So just edit naturally essentially. Do the amount that feels ready. it's really up to you how much you want to edit it. But be aware if it's not very groomed you'll get a lot of people pointing out just how rough it is. So, I'd lean towards more editing time.
     
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  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with @Feo Takahari - the point of critiques is to figure out how to make your story better, so there's no point asking for one when you still have your own ideas about how to make your story better! Do the best you can do on your own, then ask for help.

    (There is a tradition of "alpha" readers or "crit partners" where you may agree to exchange work at different stages, often earlier in the polishing process. But this generally works best when both of the writers involved are fairly competent writers (certainly ones who are beyond the SPAG, POV, clarity issues that affect a lot of beginners). It can be pretty valuable to have someone give you feedback before you've gone to the trouble of totally polishing everything. If the entire midsection has to change, there's no point sweating over the current version.

    But things posted to workshop threads are generally short, often excerpts--there's no real need or ability to "look at the big picture" when all you're given is a fragment, so there's no reason not to polish what you post for that sort of critique.
     
  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    For the workshop here, I would only post something when it was as good as I could get it. Same for sending to beta readers.

    But for my current novel I've used alpha readers for the first time and it's been really valuable. I find it quite painful to send my writing to people I respect when I know it will have typos, awkward phrasing, and all the other crap we iron out during revision. But I find it even more painful to spend hours polishing chapters that I then have to cut entirely when people read them and go "no."
     
  8. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not that I post anything, but I go after beta readers when I'm confident that the story is done, done, done.

    Beta readers never agree with me, but that's my approach. :)
     
  9. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    If I post anything it's already been edited for SPAG issues as best as my ability allows (Which ain't much according to Grammarly)
    I generally am looking for opinions about how characters are viewed, how the story flows, are descriptions enough/too much. Does dialogue make sense and seem realistic. Is anything too cheesy or cliche'? Have I missed a plot hole that you could park a Winnebago in?
    Probably that most important... Is the scene / story entertaining? I don't write for my own self-gratification of making beautiful prose to last throughout the ages. My goal is to entertain the reader.
     
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  10. BadCrow
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    BadCrow Member

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    I send my work to people whenever I'm not sure about either a character or a plot development. Yes the story will have mistakes all over it but in order to polish up the work i will need to have the plot done first (no point in perfectly phrasing a chapter that makes no sense to readers).
    However after i have the general direction I will do a bunch off passes until i can honestly say that i am unable to find any more mistakes before sending it again.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Make it as good as you can on your own, first.
     
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  12. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    So far I've only shown other people finished (as in best I can do) or, very rarely, near finished versions.

    However, while I would never show an unedited first draft of anything (I'm often having trouble reading those myself) I'm thinking of sending early versions out to see if a story is taking a sensible direction (i.e. not to get a full critique, and probably in a more private manner than posting here).
     
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  13. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Personally, I post rough draft beginnings because I get worried about some of my strange grammar habits. Are they working or not. But I wouldn't recommend this - especially if you don't have a rapport yet with critiquers. Some will just say - fix the grammar - end of discussion.

    What does your piece need work on? If it's something more to do with the story - is this character believable, is this situation exciting? than polish it up so grammar doesn't become a distraction. But try not to guide the critiquer too much and never post at the beginning of the piece - this is trash but...
    Never undermine your work.
     
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  14. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I used a small group of people who read each chapter as it was written, and knew typos etc were in there, but gave me useful feedback on character names that didn't work, where there was humour, where it was dragging a little and I found this really helpful as it tightened my writing while I was working on it. This is my first novel in a (hopeful) series of 6. The first draft is complete and it is now out for new people to read as a complete story. The feedback is different this time, and one has noticed a change in my writing style which happened when I took a break due to a change in personal circumstances, and didn't write for more than a year. This is not something I noticed, but she did, so I have been able to address that too.

    I'm working on the final edit and then it will go out to my target audience for their comments and hopefully, it will not need too much more work. I know at some point soon I have to say it's done and move on to the next one.
     
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  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it may be useful to distinguish between posting something for open crit on a board like this one and sharing with partners/crit groups who understand the specific role they're playing.
     
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  16. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    I post my work for critique as early as possible.

    Many people don't like to show off their work until their beta stage. I almost always look for alpha readers. They can help you get a grip on major narrative problems before you spend a huge chunk of your time in the polishing stage.

    I usually wait until a full draft of the novel is completed, then do a run through to flesh out grammatical and spelling errors best I can. I let my readers know that it is an alpha, not beta, and then they go to town on it.

    I find these early critiques immensely helpful.
     
  17. Miller0700
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    Miller0700 Contributing Member

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    First drafts, after I go through all the spag errors.
     
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  18. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    A bit of a necropost, but speaking for me and me alone, if you haven't cleaned up your SPaG, I'm just going to click the back button. I know the occasional error will slip through even the most careful writer's review, but when I read something with a mess of grammar mistakes, "common" spelling errors (their, they're, there), and absent or random punctuation, it is impossible for me to see the story within.

    edit: Caught my own error just after posting.
     
  19. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, you might think again, and be more generous @Iain Aschendale?

    Not all posters are hewn from the same rock.

    People choose to come to sites like this one for their pleasure, their jigsaw...and not all writers are any good at all, at all.

    Why should they be denied the community of 'creative writer,' when they just came here to have some fun? It is not always, and exactly - a linear quest...

    [For me] some of the most enjoyable critiques are conducted with the Iranian guy, or some other old guy, or a woman from the woods.
     
  20. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't deny them the community, I'm just not going to bother commenting. I did acknowledge that there are always going to be errors that slip through, and one here ot there is not going to put me off a rough draft but -

    - I teach EFL for a living. I spend my days and nights reading papers that are riddled with errors that make comprehension impossible at times. When I come to a site like this and see someone using periods as commas, or vice versa, or ignoring the little wavy red line udner (sic) a words (sic), it feels like I'm at work again.

    Just not going to happen. Not without a paycheck.

    That having been said, I'm much more tolerant of mistakes from non-native speakers because holy hell, you're writing in a foreign language? Good on you!

    Anyway, I think it's much more efficient to give your readers, whether fellow forumites or professional editors, your best, and then ask how it could be improved, rather than to waste their time and goodwill correcting things that you could handle yourself.
     
  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    In a short piece (which the workshop posts are) there really isn't any excuse not to edit as much as you can for SPAG errors before posting for critique. If you make errors, they should be errors you didn't catch, not errors you were 'going to catch later on.' It's annoying to have to wade through badly-written stuff, trying to make sense of it in order to give a helpful critique. If the writing is too error-ridden, I usually don't bother with feedback at all.

    I agree with @peachalulu - never denigrate your own work. (Let us do that for you :).)

    What always helps me, as a critique-giver, is a little note from you at the start, saying what part of your overall piece the excerpt comes from. Don't make us ask. If it's the opener to your story, tell us this. If it comes from somewhere else, let us know enough of what came before so we can look at the piece in context.

    The most annoying response is when critiquers say they 'don't know who these people are, don't know what's going on,' when the piece is actually the middle of your Chapter 5. Just fill us in (briefly) on what your readers would know before they get to this point in the story.

    Unless you just want general feedback, it makes for a more focused critique if you can state specific issues you want help with.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2016
  22. A man called Valance
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    A man called Valance Active Member

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    I wouldn't submit anything that wasn't written to the best of my limited ability. I expect the same of others (though I'm happy spare good time to anyone that writes in a second language or declares what they require, in advance.)
     
  23. JennaPeterson88
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    JennaPeterson88 Member

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    I have a writing group formed with a few friends over Facebook (closed FB group, no spreading stuff around to everyone else) where we share and critique chunks of our drafts. Mostly it's first and second drafts we're sharing with each other. These would be "alpha readers." For the workshop section here, I'd say treat it like the "beta readers" stage (though you're not sharing your whole book). Share after you've revised several times.
     
  24. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd even go so far as to say that if someone is posting anywhere on this forum—this forum for writers—the post should be checked for SPAG before hitting the button. I mean, we are writers, right? We care about writing, don't we?

    I simply can't post anything I've written that isn't proofed. To me, that's as embarrassing as getting to the grocery store and realizing I'm still in my underwear and haven't taken a shower for week... and then finding out I left my wallet at home.
     
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  25. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I did the same thing. I began with some coworkers who expressed interest in seeing the work after hearing me talk about it (maybe to make me shut up?) , though it was still second draft at the latest, and only about half done. What I got was enthusiasm, which motivated me to go on and finish something that up until then I wasn't sure about. They were neither history buffs nor writers themselves, so the fact that the story had appeal to them anyway was most encouraging. They just found it a good story, and nagged me to finish the next chapter so they could find out what happened next. One had extensive sailing experience, and corrected a major flaw in one of my storm scenes.

    I am gunshy about posting stuff in an open forum, though this probably just paranoia on my part. However, I have exchanged the WIP with betas on this site, with very positive results. I will message them with my e-mail if they have expressed interest in doing so, and request they reply with their real name and address, so I have a record of people to whom I have sent it. Again, probably just paranoia on my part. The results of that has been exceedingly positive, and one on this site not only gave a very detailed and professional critique, but sent me a nice review that I could post on my author's website, handy marketing such time as I start looking for agents. And many of my betas have also given me good reviews also posted to the website.

    Generally, I would distribute rough drafts with people you know, or with people you know well on this site, and tell them you don't want to hear how great it is, you want to hear what's wrong with it. As it polishes up, you can then start distributing it to strangers or professional critics, but by then it should look pretty close to done and starting to shine.
     
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