1. Scott Berman
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    Scott Berman Member

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    Should a new writer post his first piece?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Scott Berman, Jul 24, 2012.

    I've never in my life taken a creative writing course, although I have read a few books, and while I've wanted to write since I was a little kid I never actually sat down to do it before. Yesterday, at about 4am in the morning, I finally finished a full short story. I'm quite proud of it, I know its nothing amazing, but it does show that if I really try maybe I can write. Of course, I know its most likely utter rubbish, isn't everybody's first piece supposed to be trash? So, I'm wondering, while I don't plan on posting it right away, I'll give it a week or two to ferment and than edit it, is it worth wasting someone's time by posting my first and obviously amateur piece of work for critique, or would you recommend spending a little more time getting some writing practice in before I actually post something?

    I know as I write this that of course some people will say yes, isn't the point of getting critiqued so that you can learn what your weaknesses are and become a better writer? Yet, I can't help but feel that I would be wasting people's time if I posted something completely amateur. Than again, chances are I'm just trying to justify not posting out of fear of what people will say.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Post. We'll be gentile, although honest. Nobody is going to attack you personally -- people will offer suggestions that will improve your piece. When I took a class last year, the initial parameter as far as critiquing and accepting critique is that the piece is separate from the writer. The writer and all the readers owe it to the piece of writing to make it as good as it can be. With that in mind, consider everyone's suggestions. Some might be contradictory. Some might not work in the end. But thoughtfully considering them will make you a better writer.

    And don't post a preface when you post your piece for critique that "I know this is probably rubbish, but..." Just post it. (If you'd like you could say it's your first piece up for critique.)
     
  3. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    It's a very good idea to let a new piece "cool off" for a while and then reread it with a fresher view. It will surprise you what you find to improve it. But after that, sure, go ahead and post it.

    Don't worry about wasting people's time doing critiques. If people really don't like it, most of them will just stop reading and ignore it. Some will tell you what's wrong. Here's the surprising part: the better it is, the more detailed critique you will get from most reviewers. If they sense good material they get caught up in trying to make it what they would like it to be.

    As a corollary, even a "perfect" piece to some people will have others trying to shape it to their own image of what it should be. So all critique needs to be evaluated to see if it fits your goals.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Post it - it's not a waste , not for the reader or you. I learn from everything I read, even if it's not Tolstoy.

    I'm glad I got over my nerves and posted my stuff here - I want feedback , I want to know where I'm missing
    it , to know if I'm any good , but most important - how can I do better. It was definitely scary, I had only shown my
    work to two people before posting here. But I decided it was
    time to take a chance.

    Oh, never call your stuff rubbish! Remember a diamond could be described as just a rock -
    all it needs is the right cutting to bring it out - much like a writer and his work.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Although, B93, occasionally, I've found the opposite -- sometimes the worse a piece is, the more people weigh in with suggestions on how to fix it. Those can also make for easier critiques. So the number and detail level of critiques doesn't always carry a lot of evidentiary weight as to how good the writing is. (Although the content of the critique certainly does.) Sometimes a really good piece of writing makes a reader think, "Wow! I really liked this and can't think of anything I'd change." That can be just as paralyzing as "OMG, I don't even know where to begin with my axe."

    And if it makes you feel any better there are plenty of people who have posted terrible things in various places. On a different site, I saw a piece from a writer that was really bad -- it was probably the worst piece of writing I've ever seen from anyone, anywhere. So, 1) I am certain your piece will be better than that one, just based on the fact that you've written a coherent query above; and 2) even on that piece on the other site, everyone who responded genuinely wanted to help the writer and there were many very helpful suggestions about getting the piece into shape.
     
  6. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd post it. How are you supposed to improve if you do not know where your weakness are?

    My advice is to post the piece, get feedback, and then start critiquing other peoples' work. Look for those same errors (they'll be there) and offer suggestions on how to fix the problem. This will train you to spot the problems and to be critical in how you approach their resolution. Then write another story and repeat the process. You become a better writer by fixing other peoples' mistakes ;)
     
  7. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I'd post it! What good is writing if others can't enjoy it! Especially if they're willing to help out at the same time!
     
  8. Scott Berman
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    Scott Berman Member

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    Well the consensus is definitely that I should post it, I actually kind of feel foolish for questioning it now. Well, give me about a week of fermenting and some editing and I'll try to get it up here before I move to a new country next Thursday. Thanks for the encouragement.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Chances are your first piece of writing will be unpublishable, so go ahead and post it.

    On the other hand, if you really plan to keep rewriting it until it is up to par, then post only sample pieces you have no intention of ever publishing.

    Either way, you will learn how a piece if writing can be dissected, and you will also learn (by giving critiques) how to tear out the rot and replace it with solid sills, columns, and beams in your own work.
     
  10. Jack Montalto
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    Jack Montalto New Member

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    Definitely post it. Like most people I finally took a chance to find a forum setting to try and get my work critiqued. It will help you a bunch to have others look at it and catch things you may have missed and to provide helpful feedback.

    Also try not to be so hard on your work before you have even looked at it a second time. You took a god step by writing something down to begin with no matter what it is. The more you write the better you get.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nope. Get it as good as you can in a reasonable amount of time (the week to ferment-and-edit sounds like plenty) at your current level of writing ability, and post it. Why spend a lot of hours practicing with no guidance, when you could be spending them more productively _with_ a little guidance?

    The question of whether you're ready for criticism is different, and a completely valid issue. If I'm not prepared to hear major criticism, I don't post a piece. I exposed my writing on my blog first, and only after I'd gotten over being stressed about that did I post any here for review.
     
  12. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I suppose I should then take heart that so few people reviewed mine, lol.
     
  13. Scott Berman
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    Scott Berman Member

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    Well I sucked it up and posted, so if any do want to see what I was so worried about its "A Field of Faces" in the fantasy section.
     
  14. s33point1
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    s33point1 Member

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    You should post it, its only some friendly feedback.
     

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