1. atsgtm2018
    Offline

    atsgtm2018 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2016
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    8

    Nervous Review

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by atsgtm2018, Oct 3, 2016.

    I've been editing my first written work for almost a couple months. I think I've pieced together some good parts that I can be somewhat proud of. I'm ready to show someone like an excerpt or two. I've picked a friend (granted they have no experience in writing) to look at it. I know they'll be honest if I ask them to. I just want to know what they think of it as an audience member. I think eventually this step has come. I'm horribly nervous because my writing is so personal. How nervous were you when you had someone look at your work for the first time? I want them to take it easy but also I need the truth about how good it is. I'm debating even letting them see it. Maybe some guidance on how to get over this would help.
     
  2. Simpson17866
    Offline

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,754
    Likes Received:
    1,296
    Getting ready for the second review is a lot harder than the first one - either the first one was rough and you don't think you can take another one, or the first one was mild and you feel like your writing is too shallow and pointless for there to be any mistakes - but the third one is easier than the first two.

    What do you enjoy most about interacting with other people?
     
  3. atsgtm2018
    Offline

    atsgtm2018 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2016
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    8
    I think the most enjoyable thing is always the conversation. Two people sharing ideas and exchanging stories is always pleasant.
     
  4. Simpson17866
    Offline

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,754
    Likes Received:
    1,296
    Focus on that. There are cool ideas for your story that you will come up with later on your own, but there are also cool ideas for your story that you will love, but that you won't know about until you've bounced back and forth with your friend a bit.

    I know there are people on here who look down on changing the story in response to criticism, who feel that beta readers are for SPAG and nothing more, but I can promise you that some of my favorite ideas have been the ones where I challenged myself to change the details somebody else pointed out without changing my vision of the story as a whole ;)
     
    FrankieWuh and jannert like this.
  5. Tenderiser
    Offline

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,288
    Likes Received:
    5,161
    Location:
    London, UK
    I was terrified. Unfortunately I don't have any useful advice... you just have to do it, and it becomes easier over time. At least, for me--I can't speak for everybody.
     
  6. Komposten
    Online

    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2012
    Messages:
    1,584
    Likes Received:
    670
    Location:
    Sweden
    One way to approach it is to ask your friend not to throw all their critique into your face at once (if they have a lot to say). Sending something out for critique and getting the thing back completely covered in red pen, with a hundred comments in the margin, is not a pleasant experience.

    There is no reason to rush a crit, especially since it's your first one. If your friend has a lot to say, ask them to write it down so they don't forget. Then have them give you a couple of things to look at, fix or ignore (your choice, crits are rarely absolute), and ask for a few more points.
     
  7. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,819
    Likes Received:
    7,342
    Location:
    Scotland
    Are you showing them an unfinished story? I feel that looking for approval/feedback too early in the process can give other people too much influence on what you end up with. The story is yours, and I think it's a mistake to let people give your their opinions about it before you've finished it. You may end up writing what they think your story should be, instead of your own. However, some people like to work that way, so fair enough. Myself? I would never dream of showing a half-finished story to somebody. That would be too premature.

    One exception—if you're worried about SPAG issues. If that's the case, show a few scenes you've written—probably some containing dialogue and some with mostly narrative—to somebody who knows their stuff. Tell them it's the SPAG issues you want feedback on. And work on the areas they point out, until you understand the errors enough to not keep making them.

    Then go back and finish the whole story.

    Back off a bit, once it's done, and give yourself some time away, so you can look at it with fresh eyes. Then come back and do a thorough edit. Do your best to get it as 'perfect' as it can be. Don't just pick out a few good bits. A beta reader should be allowed to read the whole thing.

    There isn't any point in getting feedback and help on issues you can actually tackle yourself. If you see problems, get them sorted. It's when you can no longer see any problems that you need another pair of eyes. Try not to hand readers a mess to deal with. It's respectful of them, and it will benefit you to tackle problems on your own, when you can.

    However, once you think you've sorted it all, then is when the real work begins. THEN give it to your first beta reader.

    Pay attention to what the reader tells you, and don't become defensive or resistant. Instead, give their feedback a really good think. What confuses them about the story? What strikes them as not believable about the story? What parts of the story drag for them? This kind of thing. Then go back and do what you can to address their concerns. There isn't any point in explaining to them what you meant. What you must do is sort the writing so the NEXT reader doesn't have the same problems.

    Then give it to the next reader. Keep doing this until you run out of readers, or you start getting nearly all positive feedback. Of course not everybody will love what you've written. There are no authors on the planet who are loved by everybody. But if you get fewer and fewer negative remarks as you give your MS to successive readers, you'll know you're on the right track.

    When to stop? I don't know. Someplace.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
    xanadu and FrankieWuh like this.
  8. FrankieWuh
    Offline

    FrankieWuh Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2014
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    107
    Location:
    Deepest Darkest UK
    Hi atsgtm2018

    I'm not sure if this qualifies, but the first person to read my work, other than the teachers at school, was a girlfriend, so I think I was more nervous she thought I was a bit sick in the head (it was a horror story) than about the quality of the work. Professionally, the first person to see a draft of anything I had written was an editor at HarperCollins who said some nice things, before adding it wasn't quite good enough.

    I was too young to be nervous back then, but now I'm more aware of the importance of objective and constructive criticism, and I admit that I get a little nervous when anyone casts an eye over what I consider as a near-final draft. I guess, being pragmatic about any criticism helps me get over the fear of criticism, because I want to improve as a writer, and writers miss things, buried as they are under the detail of story.

    Getting over the fear of making mistakes is key to being productive. Forget about writing something perfect. I can show you too many writers who try, and end up on an anti-depressants or soul-destroying distractions. Imperfection is part of the craft in someways, because even the greatest writer is seeking improvement. And you can't do that alone. It requires objective input, from people who don't know much about writing, but know what a good story is (your average reader) to those who are craftsmen and craftswomen, who can help you hone your skills and polish the story.
    Writers shouldn't fear that, but should embrace it.

    By the way, if you're looking for such an embrace, then this forum is ideal.

    Here, you get group hugs all the way.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.

Share This Page