Day 29, 2019

From my friend Scott Rhoades

Scott has written more than two solid years, every single day. He’s my very own Stephen King!

Here are suggestions about when to take a book to fellow writers for critique help.

When Should I Ask for Feedback?

Writing a book seems like a solitary activity and, in many ways, it is. The only way to write a novel is to spend hours alone at a keyboard (or notebook), typing away. But experienced writers know that writing is most often a community effort.

It’s natural to want feedback as soon as you have words on the page, but sharing your work too early isn’t usually the best strategy, and can even hurt your ability to finish.

Sharing too soon can mean your readers are so distracted by early-draft issues they can’t look for the big-picture concerns that are harder to spot.  

The more experienced your crit partner is, the more likely you are to get a great critique on a more polished manuscript. If you’re a less-experienced writer who is lucky enough to score a critique from an experienced writer, you don’t want to waste your editor’s experience with easy line edits when you can benefit from their deeper knowledge. You’re also less likely to get a second critique from an experienced author if your partner feels like it took an excessive amount of time to critique for little mistakes most writers should be able to find on their own (like typos and mechanical errors). 

Keep in mind that a less-polished manuscript draft is more likely to look like a victim of a low-budget slasher movie when it comes back. This can be discouraging, shake your confidence as a writer, and make it harder to finish your manuscript.

Should you never share anything early? Not necessarily. A group of less experienced writers might help each other more on early drafts. Experienced crit partners who are familiar with each other’s writing might share early drafts or even outlines to validate whether a story is going to work as planned. But even if you share the most detailed outline, chances are good that there are things in your head your partner isn’t going to see, and so it’s easy to miss important points.

To help your crit partners help you, it’s best to do some serious revising before you share. Not just a quick pass, but some real work. The better you make your story before you share it, the more a good crit partner can concentrate on bigger issues in your writing.


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