1. Lone Wanderer

    Lone Wanderer Member

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    Who Do You Share Your Work With?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Lone Wanderer, Jul 27, 2019.

    Obviously most of us like to show off our writing that is WIP here on the forums but where else do you turn when you finish a new chapter and want some feedback? Friends? Family? Colleagues? Writing Groups?

    For me, my sister is my first fan of my work and she’s always asking if I’ve finished a new chapter. Honestly it’s very motivating to have someone who is invested in my story. Of course, she could just be encouraging me for the sake of it but I wouldn’t mind haha.
     
  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I haven't shown anyone my novel-in-progress. I showed someone the first chapter, but that was it. I don't really want it read until it's at it's best. For me, that takes time. And I would have thought I would finish the story before anyone read it, but I do have a publisher interested in reading what I have. I'm now working on those pages. I've been doing it alone. I'm not sure I need feedback on this one. I guess it depends on the story. If I had more time I would probably have someone here read it, but I wouldn't post it. I've made some friends and we swap work. The novel has been my side project. I'm not sure how it will go over with the publisher, exactly, but I do have an idea of his taste and we talked about my novel. I'm just going to clean it up best I can and let him be the first to read it. I did tell him it was a first draft. He just wants to see what I'm working on. I think feedback from that level will be cool, and there is no time to finish my novel. I want the invitation to be fresh. Otherwise, no one would be reading my story until it was done. I'm making up the story as I go. It's developing. And changing as it evolves. Also, people don't really want to read the same thing more than once so you really have to make sure what you're sharing is ready for that. Maybe your writing comes out fine. I need to self edit and rewrite a bit before it's ready for me to show anyone.
     
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  3. RobinLC

    RobinLC Active Member

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    Friends mostly. My family really isn't interested in reading.
     
  4. marshipan

    marshipan Senior Member

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    My boyfriend. He helps with editing, so it all goes to him.
     
  5. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    I don't like asking people I'm close to because I don't trust their response. Not because I like they'd like to me, my Mum definitely wouldn't. But because they love me and think everything I do is out of this world AMAZING! My step-dad will say things like:
    "well done, I'm so proud of you."
    I'm like "Dad, it's cheese on toast."

    So I just post in online forums. I'm also not one to have a lot of friends.
     
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  6. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    1. I would not even think sharing my texts in internet while doing it. I don't even tell the names or topics of my projects in internet publicly.

    My previous project was SH. Now I'm writing LH. Next will be...? That is exactly the amount of information I think is wise to share to wide bunch of unknown folks in internet.

    If I even hope something to be published or to be useful to me, it would be incredibly stupid to publish or share it or central parts of it publicly in internet. There is absolutely nothing I could benefit by doing that. And there is a lot I could loose. So... I can't see any point in it.

    I don't even give electronic copies of my texts to my alpha or beta readers. They get printed paper versions. And they are the trusted ones.

    2. Alpha readers. Beta readers. Boring my wife to death. Different kinds of professionals.

    But not and never in chapter basis.
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Deadrats, your whole post is excellent, but I wanted to emphasise this part of it, which doesn't get said often enough. A beta reader is VERY unlikely to want to read your offering a second time, after you've made changes. You'll have better luck with this if you're writing short stories, of course, but practically NO luck with a novel.

    I'm speaking here as a frequent beta as well as somebody who has used betas for my own writing.

    The trick is, as Deadrats says, to make your first draft the best it can be, before you give it to a beta. Then, if you make changes, give the corrected version to a new beta. If the new betas don't mention the same problems the first beta mentioned, you can be pretty sure the problems are solved. (The new betas will come up with new problems! Rinse and repeat.)

    A corollary to this: Don't give your first draft to all your available betas. Select a few, so you'll have more left in the tank for Version Two, etc. It's a lesson I had to learn the hard way.

    A beta is a 'tester audience'—a reader who is willing to talk to you about your book. A beta is not an editor.

    If you exhaust or pester your betas, they are unlikely to want to do more reading for you. You want them eager to read your next novel or story, don't you? Make sure you don't wear them out.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2019
  8. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I definitely agree with this. I only had three betas for Past Grief. One was my wife and one was my oldest friend (we've known each other for 61 years). All three gave me helpful, critical comments, none of which were duplicated by the others. The ms was far better for it, but still not ready for primetime. So, for first-time novelists aspiring to commercial publication, I would add this: Good betas will give you helpful direction. But they will not make your project ready for publication. For that you will likely need a professional.
     
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  9. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    My wife @K McIntyre (Karen) and I exchange chapters of our WIPs. We both have two out. I have one submitted for publication, True Believers, a sequel to the Eagle and the Dragon a third done, and non-fiction Riding on a Light Beam on relativity physics 90% done. Karen is working on third, an American doctor serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps serving with the 51st Highland Division in WW2. We both critique each other's work, edit and skull-session with each other as to where the story goes next, and I help her on the military details and scenarios, also a lot of research. As our WIPs have already passed each other's muster, I am very comfortable about sharing it with others. I had a large number of betas that were reading E&D chapter by chapter after it was about 2/3 done, and I got a lot of encouragement from them., as well as good feedback. @Alan Aspie, I think you are a bit over-cautious about severely restricting distribution of your work. I won't put anything up on a public forum, but I do distribute via e-mail, and carefully keep a record of to whom I sent it. I require a name and address for those I don't know, a user name or e-mail is not good enough. As to concerns that someone may steal your work, you're the rare writer if your book sells well enough to make any significant amount money. People would be better off stealing boxes of matches than unfinished manuscripts.

    Karen has been very helpful with Light Beam, making it comprehensible to the non-physicist... target audience is anywhere from high school AP Physics to PhD, with something for all. Though she hates editing that!
     
  10. M.A.

    M.A. Member

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    You are one lucky writer, having a sister like that. I have a couple of family-members who are very willing to read and critique my work - in theory. The problem is that they have busy schedules, and never quite seem to get around to it. So, I tend to not get much feedback of any kind..
     
  11. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Hi floor, make me a sammich. :P Supporter Contributor

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    Mainly the ladies at group. But I think that might be the point of our weekly meetings,
    and the emails of chapters and such. :p

    Other than that IDK who else is really going to be interested in reading my stories.
     
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  12. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

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    Friends really. I found family to be quite unreliable when it comes to giving me feedback. The only friends I trust are those that I have known for years and those I know would tell me the truth regardless. One of those friends is almost a co-writer as he provides a lot of my ideas and is there a lot when I formulate my characters, plots, scenes, etc...
     
  13. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    1) no one wants to steal your novel or your ideas
    2) if a reader somehow managed to track down your forum posts about your book (which is unlikely unless they're looking) it's not going to ruin it for them
    3) publishers only care if significant portions of the book have been made public, which is very different to emailing a word document
    4) you stand to gain a lot in broadening your beta reading horizons and getting varied critique

    This paranoia is unnecessary and it's impossible to offer advice to a writer who refuses to be drawn on specifics. If you've any intention of asking for help, you're going to need to recognise that ideas are ultimately worthless and spoilers for a book that hasn't been written aren't spoilers.
     
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  14. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

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    I share my WIPs with my mum, because she's interested in them, although she doesn't really give in-depth critique. She just tells me it was good, says what parts she liked best, and flags up any big problems she spotted. I also joined a critique group at university, which gives more detailed feedback.
     
  15. SpokenSilence

    SpokenSilence Member

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    I share my stuff with friends in a private forum. One of them is constantly giving well-meant constructive criticism - however he's mainfly focussing on content and not so much on style.
    The other one just reads, but she never really come up with critique - ebem though I told her she could and actually should say if she didn't like it because it would help me get better.
     
  16. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I tend to share my work with everybody in the world who cares not to read it. I don't know why.
     
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  17. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    Not me, Mat, I didn't mind reading your stuff at all.
    I've always struggled to find beta readers IRL. My family and friends aren't interested in reading much except for my sister who won't read my stuff. It was only when I found these forums that I eventually found people who were willing to give it a go. Mind you this was with shorts, novels are another thing, what with the time it takes to get through that much reading and everyone being so busy with life. Definitely agree with those who say write until you can't get your work any better: polish, polish, polish.
     
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  18. Harms88

    Harms88 New Member

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    I've only ever had one person that I didn't end up having to give actual money to do any sort of Beta-reading. And even then they bounced after my second story.
     
  19. Rockatansky

    Rockatansky Member

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    No one!
     
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  20. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I hear ya on this. I'm the same. I NEVER share a WIP with anybody, and that includes chapter by chapter. I drive my face-to-face writing group nuts, because I don't bring current writing in to 'share.' However, they do understand, as I've produced an entire novel for them to read.

    However, once the novel is finished, then I do share. I want to find out if the thing actually works. No other way to do that except ask.

    I've learned a LOT from betas, and have made lots of changes as a result of what they've told me—especially if they are confused about something that needs clarification, or if they have problems with my style (that I agree with)—but nobody else ever influences my original concept for the story. I think that's important.

    Writing comes in two halves, I reckon. First half is what you intended to write. Second half is how your writing is received.

    I make an effort to close that gap, when possible, but it's MY story, not a mishmash of what other people think the story should be. And I love solving story problems by myself. There is no way I would ever 'write by committee.' I don't want feedback on an unfinished product.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
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  21. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    But you're published right, you're an author? I'm guessing that changes things a little, the way you approach your novels; perhaps not, I don't know. I would imagine you have more confidence in your method, and your progress through the process; or is it more confidence in yourself, in what you can do?
    I also like the problem solving aspect in writing.
     
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  22. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No I'm not published. I intend to self-publish. The novel has been finished for quite a while, but I just haven't had the mental energy to tackle the publishing process. 'Stuff' keeps getting in the way. But I've probably had over 50 beta readers read the novel in its various versions ...from really awkward first draft to now, when it's actually finished.

    Believe me, I made MANY changes based on my feedback. But what I don't want is people interfering with the story before I think it's finished. Once I think it's finished I'm open to all sorts of suggestions. But these won't influence my original concept.

    But if I show, say the first two chapters, to betas, and say. "Well, what do you think? Would you read on?" I'm asking for trouble. Some will decide that they think the character should have blue eyes instead of brown eyes, and instead of living on a ranch should probably be living on a farm in the midwest, and instead of being set in 1886, it would be better set after WW1 because of bla bla bla, and this is obviously going to be a Romance (erm, no, it's not) so that means I should be doing thus and such in the first chapter ...etc etc. If I start listening to all that noise, I would probably never write Chapter Three.

    I also hate somebody standing over my shoulder while I type. I used to really hate somebody standing over my shoulder and making comments on an unfinished painting or drawing as well. DAMMIT!!! It's not DONE yet!

    I am perfectly happy to take all sorts of suggestions for improvement once I'm done, and make the necessary changes, do some re-writes, etc. But I don't want interference while I'm creating. It kills the process for me. And I like the idea that if I encounter a story problem, I can fix it myself. I don't want to get stuck in the rut when every time I hit a snag I run to other people begging, 'whaddle I do, whaddle I do?'
     
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  23. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    Totally get that, not a fan of over-the-shoulder help either. Just let me get on with something until I think it's done and then you can comment if you want to. I used to paint a lot and my sister, upon seeing something in progress, would inevitably tell me she didn't know what it was or she didn't like it or something else. Drove me nuts: let me finish please.
    Self publishing is harder than you think, the little I've researched it, not the short-cut some writers think it is; if you want to do it properly anyway. I remember when I was very young I wrote something which I wanted to publish, but not really understanding the business nearly got involved with the vanity publishing world. Thankfully I managed to gather enough information at the time to help me navigate my way out of it, without handing over a lot of money that is.
     
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  24. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's just mastering the tech that I'm dragging anchor over. I need to get my book formatted. I've downloaded Vellum, which apparently works a treat with work produced on Mac Pages, which is what I use. However, there are lots of preliminaries. I need to gather all the info I need for the front and back covers, the inside credits, etc. Buy ISBN numbers (I'll be buying mine, rather than taking the freebies that come with certain print-on-demand companies. I want to own them outright.) Then get a book cover design, etc. This is the point where I wish I had a magic wand. One that actually works. Or maybe capture a little gnome who will give me three wishes.

    Marketing isn't a big issue with me. I just want it out there. I'll let it be known it's out there ...and if people buy it that's great. If they don't ...well, I'm 70 years old. I'm not looking at building a career as a writer.
     
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  25. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    If you aren't interested in the marketing that's one of the largest parts of it you don't have to worry about. I have looked into it a little but not enough to help anyone I'm afraid. But if I come across a gnome on my travels I'll let you have a wish on me.
     
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