1. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Letting friends read unfinished work?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by zilly, Jun 16, 2010.

    Ok, here's the deal. My friend and I have been writing a story for a while. I've come here a couple times for information and you all have been great to me.

    We are at the point where we are about halfway finished with the writing and the plot is finished. Our friends are starting to get really excited about it -- I think mainly because they see how excited we are. We want to start letting our closest friends read it and send it to a couple of people we trust will give us a good, honest opinion on what they think of it. As I've mentioned before, there's no doubt in the quality of the work, but we honestly feel that it doesn't have an audience to get published. So, we want to get our friends opinions on how much they like it and a couple professional opinions on whether we have a chance to get published.

    That being said, I've read that you really have to be careful about this type of situation. So, is it a bad idea to let people read it? How worried do we have to be about sending out what we have so far? Is there anything we might need to know that we are unaware of at this point?

    Thank you all so much.
     
  2. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    I don't let anyone read unfinished work. Comments could totally stall out the process, because readers always have opinions that might mess with the writing process. I prefer to finish before I start getting any input for fear that the input will drive me off the story I wanted to tell or even discourage me and make me give it up (or paralyze me with worrying they won't like the second half as much or something like that).
     
  3. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    I'm never without doubt in the quality of my work. i think it's healthy, and constructive somewhat. As long as friends never become a convenient (if cheap) affirmation of one's writing prowess, i see no problem with it.

    That said, i usually annoy the sh*t out of my friends before i make em read my work, just so they're eager to point out flaws in it. the more critical the better in the long run.
     
  4. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    The only circumstance I'd let a friend read an unfinished work is when I've abandonded it.
     
  5. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    Personally I don't let friends and family see my work. The reason for this is that they will give a biased opinion, even if it's rubbish they will still say its good to avoid hurting your feelings.

    Finish it first, review it and edit it until you are happy that you have got it as good as you can and then send it to an agent or publisher. The publisher or agent will be the only one who can tell you if it has a chance at being published.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have let my son look at drafts on occasion. He understands my critiquing approach, and is not only completely honest in his appraisals, but is also quite insightful for a non-writer. He has given me some excellent feedback. Also, he has a strong science and technology background, and is possibly an even more dedicated fan of science fiction than I am, so he comes up with interesting suggestions about different ways to take the story.

    Other than that, I don't usually show unfinished pieces to friends or family.
     
  7. Arvik
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    Arvik Member

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    It depends on what you mean by "finished." A completed first draft (which I would let someone read) isn't "finished" in the same way as a fully revised and edited final draft.

    Personally, I like to edit the first draft myself, and then find a "beta reader." Someone who I know will give me constructive, honest feedback, but likes me enough to take the time out their schedule to help me out. It's possible to be too close to the story (no surprise after putting so much into it!) and just not be able see certain problems. Something might be clear in your head but not on the page, for example. And if they can find that before you submit, well, it only helps your chances, right?

    But I would wait until the first draft is finished and edited to your liking. Otherwise it's a little like painting the walls of a house that's still under construction.

    Hope some of this helps. Best of luck!
     
  8. Joules03
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    Joules03 Senior Member

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    I agree with Arvik. I edit it to my liking and then send it to my sister, who is also a writer. But I have gotten it to a certain point myself, and then she can point out weak points and inconsistencies.

    The people that are just going to say they like it no matter what, I would wait on. At least until it's at a point where you're as happy with it as you can be.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i always caution new writers to never let friends, or anyone they're related to or sleeping with read their work...

    the reason being that in most cases [cog's son aside], you'll get kindly meant lies and/or poor advice from folks who don't really know good writing from bad...

    while working on something and/or before you submit anything, you should ask for feedback from someone who's knowledgeable about the writing business and can spot goofs and glitches in the work [not other beginners]...
     
  10. Tamsin
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    Tamsin Senior Member

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    The only thing you will get from friends reading your work is a lot of compliments. If you see value in this for a morale boost then go for it. If you are genuinely seeking constructive feedback then friends are not the people to go to. They are your friends, so of course they are going to tell you your writing is really good. What they won't be able to do is be completely honest.

    It depends whether you need to hear lots of compliments about your writing, or if you just want to get on with the actual writing of it.

    It is a bit concerning that you want to send it to close friends for a 'good, honest opinion' and that you already think there is 'no doubt in the quality of the work'. To me it sounds like you have already made up your mind that you are totally happy with what you have done and don't actually want any constructive feedback, just lots of encouragement. This is rather dangerous for a writer who is serious about improving their work and being successful.

    I echo the advice of Mammamaia - you will only get compliments if you show your work to your friends. This is of course very nice, but is entirely useless to a writer who wants honest opinions about their work.
     
  11. Joules03
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    Joules03 Senior Member

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    I disagree that you will only get compliments when you show it to your friends, but I suppose that depends what kind of friendships you have. My friends and I are close enough that we can be honest with each other - not just about writing - without worrying that offense will be taken. But yeah, if you have friends who are afraid to tell you you have food stuck in your teeth, I could see having reservations about them editing your work.

    I also agree that you should have friends that know a thing or two about writing, though the friends that like to read know more than you might think. And you just have to take some comments with a grain of salt.
     
  12. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    Really, back when I was 13 I let my brother read some and he said that it was corny. My mother told me the same thing without even reading it. I'm surprised you have friends that care to read it. I've been trying to get my family and my friend to read it over the years, but they always act like it's a nuisance now and I'm bothering them when they could be doing more important things. Mostly everyone in my family knows I'm a writer, but they don't ever volunteer to read my work, though they know how passionate I am about it.
     
  13. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    My husband and one of my very good friends are both first readers for me (I have a couple others that are writers I met through workshops). They are absolutely honest (even when I want to throw things at them *grin*). I trust them to give their opinions as readers on what works and what doesn't for them. I don't ask them to tell me how to fix what they don't like, that's not their job. My job is to figure out how to mend what's broken or not.

    Some family and friends might make good first readers. It depends on the people involved and how well the writer takes critique. If you ask someone to read something and be honest about if they liked it or not and what worked for them or didn't and then jump down their throat if they say something you don't agree with, well, they probably won't read for you again.

    But I don't give my first readers unfinished work. It's a lot easier to hear criticism if I don't have to go work on the story the next day. :)
     
  14. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    I see what all of you are saying about letting friends read my work and expecting honest feedback. I wasn't expecting to get that from my friends, in all honesty. For one, the story relates to some of them. One of them is even in the story. So, honestly, these are going to be bias opinions. However, a lot of them really, really want to read it. I was wondering if it would be safe to let them read it. I was reading online that, if you're story gets posted online somewhere, the chances of it getting published are next to none.

    That being said, we do know two of our professors that we really think will give us an honest opinion. They know we'd rather get our feelings hurt and get the truth. So, I really want to send it to them.

    The story is set up kind of weird. There are six parts to it. The first part is about a third of the entire story, though. As I've mentioned earlier, we have the entire plot worked out. We already have a rough draft of the entire story, but the first part is the only part that is finished. We have proofread and edited this part of the story twice each. So, in all probability, it is not going to be changed until it's sent to an editor (if that happens). So, I think in many ways this part is ready to be critiqued. Obviously, it's just a part of a story, though. But, we just really want to know if our style of writing is going to be publishable.

    As I've mentioned several times, we know that it's very well written, but that doesn't mean that it is something that people will want to read. I think that makes perfect sense, but it seems that a lot of people are not understanding what I'm trying to say. I guess think of turning in a paper in a creative writing class. Often times you are graded on the actual story and then the writing which isn't just the grammar. We are confident that the writing is of great quality, but we are worried if people are actually going to be interested in the plot. It's hard to get the essence of our style of writing, but the basic point of it is to take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. So, the plot really revolves around six things that happened in our life--none of which are that noteworthy--and we tell it in a very interesting way.

    I've mentioned in previous threads that I'm certain there are books that exist that are written like this, but neither my friend or I or anyone we know, for that matter, is aware of any such book. The way we describe it is that it is much more like an essay that you would turn in for a creative writing class except it is novel length.

    Hopefully I've been able to get the point across. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, but I really wanted to make sure I got it across this time.

    Once again, you all have been so helpful to me and I can't explain how grateful I am. Thank you.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    since you say 'we' do you have a co-writer?... if so and if either of you intend to ever submit it for publication, you should have a collaboration agreement in place first... in fact, anyone considering a joint writing effort should have one signed and sealed before exchanging a single idea, or writing a single word... to not do so is to invite trouble later... friendships have been torpedoed and rights to ones work irrevocably lost by those who neglected to take this step, thinking their partner can be trusted with their life... with their life, maybe... but when the possibility of money and fame raises its ugly head, love and paldom streak out the window all too often...

    so anyone who might ever co-write anything should go here < www.wga.org > and stash away the collaboration agreement you'll find there... with a bit of altering, the document meant for screenwriters can be made to fit any kind of joint writing enterprise < http://wga.org/uploadedFiles/writers_resources/contracts/collaboration.pdf >
     
  16. eliza490
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    eliza490 Member

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    Oh I absolutely hate letting other people read my work before it's finished! I don't know why, but it just irritates me. It just seems like they can't really judge it very well when it's not finished and they don't know what the final product is that you envision. I know for some writers it can help to get some advice or critiques along the way, but for me it's just a frustrating distraction.

    ~Eliza
     
  17. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    I never let anyone read my work; I don't want to be put down and lied to...
     
  18. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    The only person that reads my unfinished work is my best friend. But she's honest and is a writer and an english teacher herself so I'm not embarrassed :)
     

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