1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    How much feedback do you get?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lea`Brooks, Apr 20, 2015.

    I'm an outliner. Or at least, a rough outliner. I don't like to write a word until I have my characters figured out, my world built, my magic system finalized, my entire backstory planned, and my actual story roughed out. For the most part, I let the story write itself -- I just figure out the biggest events. But I don't feel like I can truly move forward until I have everything ready to go. Because I like to know where my story is going. I like to build up the scene properly and throw in some subtle hints and all that jazz.

    But it's starting to become quite a hassle for me. Because I would think I had everything figured out. I'd start writing. Then I'd realize something doesn't work quite right, and I'd have to change it. Then that would cause a butterfly effect, and I'd end up changing more than I set out to.

    So I thought.. Okay, I just need to get feedback on these ideas before I start writing. Really get it planned out so I won't have to change a thing when it's time to write. So I started talking to my husband. I'd run my ideas by him, get his opinion, and then change what didn't make sense to him.

    But now I'm starting to feel like I rely on him too much. I don't feel comfortable moving forward without his opinion because I'm worried my idea sounds silly or overdone or impossible. Now that I'm typing it, I'm realizing this could be a confidence issue.. lol

    So does anyone else get feedback before you write? Or do you just write and then get feedback? Do you worry about things not working out and having to go back and make major changes to make sure the story makes sense? Do you worry that what you thought was good might actually come off as unrealistic once the story is written and then you'd have to completely change the story to adjust for this mistake? Do I suddenly need validation that my ideas are good because I've lost all confidence in myself? lol


    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't get feedback before writing. No. Mainly because I've no one from whom to get it. Such is my lot. I too am a planner, but not to the degree that you describe. Were there to be a "Kinsey Scale" of pantsers vs planners, I'm a 3, where a 1 is "my characters let me know what they want when we sit and have tea and crumpets together" and a 6 is "I rule this Land of the Page."

    I don't worry about having to make changes because I usually only have a few major landmarks plotted out. There's a great degree of latitude between those points.
     
  3. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I were to use that scale, I suppose I'd be a 4 or 5. In this story, the only thing I haven't done is planned each chapter, point by point. (Another story I have is completely laid out, scene for scene, so that would make me a 6. :p)

    Sometimes I almost wish I didn't have someone to talk to... lol My husband's idea of fantasy and mine are very different. So when I give him an idea I have, he makes a suggestion that would make it better to him, but it's so far off from what I write that it wouldn't work in my story. I make an alternate suggestion, and he often gets frustrated that I shut down his ideas. So then I get frustrated that he's frustrated, and it makes me not want to talk to him anymore, which makes him upset that I can't count on him and... It's a never ending cycle. lol

    My major problem at the moment is that I came up with two ideas yesterday that would greatly influence my story. One idea would take up a large portion of the book, and the other is the reason behind the conflict of the entire story. So if these two ideas were looked at negativity once it was written, the entire novel would be in jeopardy. I'd have to lose one huge segment (at least half of the book), or I'd have to completely rework the conflict, which would change the way my characters act and the situations they are put into.

    I'm not as concerned about one idea as much as I am the other. I don't believe the idea that takes up half the book would be looked at strangely. There's just one minor issue that could be seen as a plot hole if I don't do it correctly, but that could be easily changed. It's the second I'm worried about. While there are many minor conflicts in my story, there is one large conflict behind it all: two groups fighting against each other. And the idea I came up with is the reason behind this war. If I go with it, good people would have done bad things to get into positions of power, and even worse things to maintain their position. It would change the way I write the characters. If it doesn't work for the reader, then everything would have to change. I'd have to come up with a new reason, which would change the way the characters speak and act. And that would basically force me to rewrite every scene with these characters in it, to account for the change in plot.

    Make sense?

    So I'm hesitant to move forward without proper... acceptance, I suppose. But maybe I should just write it and not concern myself with the opinions of others, yeah? As the quote in my tag says, do not write to impress others or I'll have difficulty remaining true to myself..
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding, yes? The ingredients on the counter may all clearly add up to a pudding to anyone who knows about making puddings, but that doesn't mean you won't burn it, undercook it, use too much or too little of any given ingredient, etc. All that can be said from the stuff on the counter is "Yes, one can make a pudding with those things."

    You must break an egg and pour the milk and make with the whisk at some point. ;)

    In my fantasy-esque WIP, I changed the nature of my MC's love interest so much at one point that I think the love interest is now the actual MC and the original MC is the love interest. I've had to rewrite quite a bit of the story, but that's ok, the character who I changed is so much more interesting in his new visage than he had been, and perhaps that's why he's overshadowed the original MC in my mind. But the truth is that I would not have seen or cared to make this change, which I think improves the story tremendously, without having written some of the story. The two characters will still make the landmarks they need to make to get to the plot conclusion that I want, but I think they will have learned different things than I originally intended.
     
  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used to crave feedback during my first year or two of serious writing attempts. Outlines, plots, chapter 1, paragraph 1. It always ended in disaster. You can't expect someone else to care or understand your storyline as much as you, but worse, until you have a cohesive, finished draft, it'll be hard for anyone, including you, to really get what's going on. Being a hardcore planner doesn't mean you're exempt from the editing process. This is exactly why some people, myself included, strongly recommend getting the first draft out as quickly as possible. Yes, it's a cheap draft, but because you haven't invested years in it, it's not such a big deal to do massive reconstruction on it( I also believe it will be healthy for your prose, but that's another argument). And yes, by massive reconstruction, I mean even changing a character or two and rewriting a lot of those character's scenes. At no point is your work actually getting worse. It's going from unwritten, to written, to better written.
     
  6. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    Isnt feedback what this board is for? Pick a member or two that you like and do some quid pro quo...

    I'm starting to realize that I run in between. I like to have enough planned out so I know where I am going but leave enough blank to make adaptation on the fly less difficult. I generally have a good idea of the main characteristics of the MC and other prominent characters, a theme, the opening, the climax, and the ending. The inbetweens I develop as I go depending upon how everything works.

    In my one and only fantasy attempt, I did not fully build out the world and all that it entailed. I thought out the degree to which magic and fantasy creatures existed along with some parameters about the geography but didnt go beyond that. Part of my reasoning was I wanted the world to serve the story and not vice versa. I didnt want to spend time thinking out details that might not be relevant and then face the temptation to force them into the story to satisfy my own wishes. I abandoned my story because the characters sucked but I felt comfortable with how I was tackling the project.
     
  7. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    I dont know. My feeling is that YOU are telling a story, and this needs to be your voice. If you tell people about your ideas and request feedback in the planning stage they will quickly start talking about their ideas and its no longer your work, its a collaboration.

    My personal opinion is that you should write your ideas and then get feedback on if people were able to understand, follow, and enjoy the writing. In that situation the changes that they will offer on your flushed out work will be more in line with your original intent, rather than complete u-turn suggestions "you know what would be really cool, robot bunnies!"

    I used to have this issue on jokes in stand-up, i would have a rough concept for a bit idea and would tell it to a friend. They would take that concept and then give me suggestions that completely did not fit my stage voice or intent. You often come out of those talks worse, because not only are you questioning your original bit idea (which your friend likely never really considered, and quickly discarded) now you are working on their idea's that don't make sense coming out of your mouth. This is a good way to create more headaches for yourself.
     
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  8. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well it depends - normally I'd say just start writing - but people who outline do often get outline critiques. We have people in my writing group ask if they can workshop outlines. I've heard podcasts where outlines are critiqued.

    However, I would caution that you don't need validation or approval before deciding a story is good enough to start writing. That's totally subjective and dependent on the critic's taste. Only the author can decide if a premise is worth writing. If you're shopping an outline it's a question of structure, not a question of validity.
     
  9. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow! I didn't expect to get so many responses so quickly.. lol Thank you all so much. :)

    @Wreybies Nearly that exact same thing happened to me.. lol I had my MC and my love interest, but the love interest is closer to the MC than the old MC was. I do love when things work themselves out like that without my control.

    @123456789 That's very helpful, thank you. I've always known a lot of editing would be needed, but I didn't really know if a lot of editing was seen as a bad thing or a necessary thing. I always tried my hardest to make sure that I wouldn't have to do severe editing, because it almost made me feel like I failed, if that makes any sense. But you're right. It doesn't mean it's getting worse.. hopefully. :p I've always wanted to just be able to write a story and let it grow there in front of me. But part of me still really needs to outline. So maybe I'll dial my outlining back to like a 3... I'll set the foundation, but let the story build itself. I think I could probably do that.

    @wellthatsnice You took the words out of my mouth. Last night, as my husband was getting frustrated talking to me, I realized that it did seem like a collaboration. That wasn't my intent really. I just wanted someone to talk to, to help me work out my ideas out loud, bring up the issues that maybe I wasn't seeing. But it did become more of a collaboration feel.. He would give an idea, I'd give an idea, and we started trying to figure out a way to make them both work.. And that's not what I want! Fortunately, I have only taken one of his ideas for any of my stories.. lol I just use his outside perspective to kind of point out the flaws and help me see it from a different angle. Someday, we'll probably do a collaboration. But for my personal stories, maybe I should just stop asking his advice.

    Through our conversations, I DID start to question many of my ideas. A lot of them really... Most of them, now that I think about it.... lol Because our voices and ideas are so different. What I think is a good idea he thinks is silly, and what he thinks is a good idea, I think is silly. So when I hear negative comments from him, it makes me feel as if I'm not a good enough writer, my ideas suck, blah blah blah. But that's not necessarily the case. I'm just different from him, and that's good!

    @Commandante Lemming I often question myself, as I said above, and worry that because people don't like it, I'll be considered a bad writer. I personally love the two ideas I came up with. Well, I at least love one of the ideas. The second is growing on me, but I'm still not 100% confident in it. But if I like it.. then I need to write it. Because I'll never know if someone else likes it until it's written. Right?


    Thanks everyone! I feel much better now. Looks like I just need to get to writing, huh? :p
     
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  10. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    No. I mean I'll post snippets here of first drafts but that's mainly to see if I've got the tone right, or to clear up certain issues I'm having with my style so that I can continue. Or sometimes I'm just in the mood to share what I'm working on. On other sites, that allow it, I'll post longer pieces to see if people can point out plot holes. But I'm not really a fan of sharing at the concept stage. I'm too vulnerable - someone could say I don't like that and I'm in immediate doubt. Given it's a snippet has the critiquer judged it right? - am I judging the critique right? It creates a stall and doubt in my own judgment - not good considering it's a first draft and a snippet at that.

    As much as I like planning ( novels ) that is one of it's flaws ( for me anyway. ) It assumes to give me everything I need. And then I start writing and discover otherwise ( It's the difference between planning a vacation and having one - nothing ever goes according to plan. And it's pointless to try. ) That's why I've since kept the character details down to the barest minimum even though my storylines are pretty elaborate. This allows my characters to shape the scenes ( according to their needs ) rather than push the plot. It also allows me to stay in the moment - look around so to speak at the scene and see how it can define the character and therein define the plot.


    I've been going over an old first draft and I can see how setting everything in stone spoiled fifty percent of an already crummy first draft. In fact that only bright spot was the ending which went totally off the rails.

    My characters were plot pushers. Things I had decided before writing no longer made sense in the scenes. I gave the mc a yo-yo which kept turning up and added nothing to the scenes or his character. As for the characters they were ridged - reacting precisely as to who I decided they were rather than shifting to work with the scene. My female heroine was an unfailing tease and little else. There were no other shades to her character which made every scene predictable and eventually they became rehashes. I'm not saying this can happen with everyone who plans this is just my experience. And I doubt it could've been fixed with input. I'm pretty good at explaining things and probably would've justified the yo-yo as a symbol of Dexter's indecision. Interesting idea but worthless execution.

    I'm hoping to start fresh with this story and be a bit more flexible.

    There's such a huge scale between planning and execution I wouldn't get too much feedback until someone can actually read some scenes and see how these elements work together. What sounds good in planning may not come together in the writing.
     
  11. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's a truism that men talk to solve problems while women just talk.

    It looks as if you were doing the one, and your husband was doing the other, and that left you feeling that you had to compromise so as not to upset him by saying "Thanks for those suggestions, but they're not ideas I want in my story."
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with Shadowfax here - it sounds like your husband's trying to help you solve a problem and then when you don't take his advice, it feels like wasted time to him perhaps. Perhaps clarifying this with your husband would be a good idea. Another thing that might be helpful - help him understand what you might want to do, so he can start suggesting things that help you do that, rather than what he thinks is good. However, that's a pretty difficult distinction to make for anybody. Perhaps communicating more as to why you're saying no to his ideas might help - it's not that his ideas aren't valued, but simply that they don't fit what you want to do.

    Personally I'd say if your ideas are vastly different, then don't share too much with him until you have something written and only show him the finished version. Sometimes ideas sound silly at first but when you write it and can see how it all works out, it can look very different suddenly :)

    It's quite natural to want the approval of our loved ones, but if as you say you both have vastly different ideas of what makes something good, it might be that your husband can appreciate and recognise that you're a good writer with good stories, but he personally might never be one of your readers, if you get what I mean. That's not personal - but just cus he's your husband doesn't by virtue of that mean he would automatically love your stories and relate to every character you write. That's another thing to bear in mind, I think. Whether your husband likes your stories or not doesn't make you a good or bad writer, and your husband's love for you certainly does not depend on whether you're a good writer. You can say whether you're a good writer or not is irrelevant, and that's a good thing. Make sure you remember that and don't let this come between you.
     
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  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say that you might not want to talk this out with your husband, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't talk it out with SOMEONE.

    Finding a good crit partner, someone you click with and who you can learn from as well as teach? Really difficult to find, but really excellent when you have it. You need to be prepared to spend some time working on their story, but I think that balances out pretty easily with the benefit you get from their ideas.

    In terms of getting feedback at the outline stage? I often write the first chapter or two, figure out a rough outline, and send that to my agent and/or editor to see what they think. They can often recommend changes that would make the book more marketable, and I can take those ideas or leave them.

    If you're writing one magnum opus that will encapsulate your entire life experience and feelings and everything you are? You probably don't want a lot of feedback at the outline stage. But you probably don't want a lot of feedback ever, because this book is YOURS, damn it! But if you're writing a different sort of book, one that's more focused on the market or on pleasing readers, then you need to get your ideas in front of readers, right? Might as well start at the outline stage.
     
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  14. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I never look for feedback during the formative process. I'm a firm believer that a writer has to work these issues out for himself/herself. Critique is a different matter. Once I've written and edited the piece on my own, then I look for critique from others as part of the process of making it as good as it can be prior to seeking actual publication.
     
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  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    What's the rationale behind your firm belief? (Genuine question - I'm not sure I understand why you'd seek out feedback at the later stages but not earlier.)
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    My rationale is that critique after the work is completed will be focused on the quality of the writing and the execution of the idea, while input early on would impact the idea itself, and that belongs solely to me. Also, my experience on this site is that way too many novice writers post their ideas either to validate them or because they have not yet developed the capacity for bringing an idea from inception to completion, and a writer needs to develop that skill.
     
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  17. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that new writers often post too early (I think it's because writing is hard, but talking about writing is easy!).

    but I don't really see how the idea would belong solely to you, while the writing somehow wouldn't belong solely to you? It's all your work, isn't it?
     
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think I said that.

    If you're suggesting that by accepting critique on a completed project, the writing somehow ceases to belong to the writer, I would not agree with that (unless, of course, the critic were to dictate extensive passages and the writer were to incorporate it, word for word). I once suggested a change in an ending of a friend's novel (actually a clarification of what I understood the ending to be), and she replied, "Yes, you could end it that way. But that wouldn't be the story that I wrote." And she was right.
     
  19. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    So then I'm still not clear on your rationale. I mean, I agree that an early critique would be a critique of just the idea. But I don't really understand why a critique of just the idea is a bad thing...?
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't see that feedback has to change your creation be it early or late in the game. I take the ideas I get from people and use them to improve my writing. I never make a change I don't agree with.

    Maybe because I have such a firm idea of what I'm writing I'm not worried about someone changing that. In fact, one of the things that drove me nuts when I first started in my critique group was people telling me things like, your character should do this or you should change the story to that. I told them flat out, their ideas were not the story I was writing.

    Now that my book is so much further along, I rarely get that kind of feedback. I would have thought it was because my story was more fleshed out. But then I remembered when I was writing this post that just last night someone suggested I add a flashback of a memory instead of trying to get the information out in a character rant. I have plenty of ideas how to change the character rant and fix the issue, but no way did a flashback belong in that scene. :p

    I have learned how to write by a combination of seeking out knowledge and listening to feedback. And I'd say the feedback was the larger half of that equation.
     
  21. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with the idea that the most useful feedback is reader-centred - a reader can tell you where they were bored, which characters they wanted to see more of, what parts confused them. But it's not their job to tell you how to fix those problems.

    I think it's difficult for writers to give that kind of feedback b/c we think we know how the problem should be fixed. But, as people are pointing out, we know how we'd fix the problem, but that doesn't mean it's how the author will fix it.
     
  22. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    As in all of these "who does what" debates, each writer decides for him/herself.
     

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