PDA

View Full Version : Sharing writing with people you know...



dreamsofnever
02-10-2007, 08:19 AM
Anyone else ever have a much easier time sharing their work with strangers over the internet (or strangers in general) then people they actually know?

Maybe I just have a complex, but for the longest time the only person I knew in real life who read anything I wrote was my sister. I don't know why, but I was terrified of people seeing what I worked and not liking it, and then having to feel like they have to say something nice or whatever.

But then my fiance came along and started to break me of that habit. He read my work and was so incredibly enthusiastic about it that I started to realize it might be a good thing to show friends and family, though I'm still depending on relative online strangers to give more direct honest feedback-lol.

Anyways, the big point of this post is that, since I've buckled down and gotten really excited about being in the final stages of editing my first completed novel, I've been talking about my writing desires more often, and now two coworkers have asked to read it. I'm nervous! It's so funny that I worry they'll read it and think I'm silly for pursuing my writing dreams or something, or that they'll feel obligated to say something nice.

The good thing is that one of them told me he's a pretty avid reader of sci-fi and warned me that he's going to provide honest criticism, and that he hopes I don't take offense to it, because he just wants to help. I think that was actually really awesome of him and told him that I consider constructive criticism a huge compliment and that's what I really need right now, not just a 'hey, that's really good' from my mom, fiance, and in-laws. :D

So, yeah, this was rambly, but the point is I'm nervous, though a bit stoked to get more feedback on my work.

Anyone else have a hard time sharing your work with people you know versus people you don't know face-to-face?

And anyone else here wish your friends and family would stop gushing about your work? lol. Don't get me wrong, I love the gushing and love that they're supportive, but yes... constructive criticism is what I'm looking for (though they do pair their gushing with constructive crit as well, so they really are the best family and in-laws I could ask for. I'm just strange, I suppose)

johnzakour
02-10-2007, 06:05 PM
Hi,

I actually never share anything I write with any of my family or friends until after it's published. Unless a family member or a friend is an editor or works in the publishing business I don't see a lot of use in it, even then any feedback will be tainted at best as they can't read you objectively. It's kind of like the parents on Amercian Idol, gushing to the judges how talents their kids are. On occasion they are right but far more often than not they are wrong.

I usually only let editors and publishers (and my agent) read my prepublished work. On occasion I will send a few paragraphs to an another author or two I trust and ask, "does this suck?" But I try not to do that more than once a book.

I find if I like what I wrote, chances are my editors and readers will too.

Note: to this day, even with four novels out and five more coming over the next couple years, three humor books, three books on HTML, a syndicate comic strip and at least four movies optioned, whenever my mom sees me she says, "Get a Real Job!"

scarletpeaches
02-10-2007, 06:13 PM
Oh, I'm the same. Only one person I know has ever read my writing; that was a friend who was housebound and kept begging me to let her read my book. As she was the only person I knew who even came close to me in terms of bookwormery, I let her.

My aunt has also read my book, but she lives in Oz and I emailed it to her, so I didn't have to see her face to get a reaction! I think it's something to do with seeing someone smile or frown in the wrong places. Of course, you don't actually look at someone while they're reading your book, but you have to see them again to pick up the copy of the novel (or whatever you've written) and if they don't like it, and live near you, you can't avoid them forever!

I'm reluctant to let friends read the book, not because I think I'm a bad writer, but friends tend to say, "Oh that's nice," without going into detail. WHY is it nice? WHY don't you like it? Friends tend to temper their feedback with a desire to not upset you.

It's best to find beta readers who can be polite, but to the point, and tell you WHY something doesn't work, rather than, "Why don't you have the MC do this," or "I think it would be better if he did that."

Elodie-Caroline
02-10-2007, 07:02 PM
Hi,
I finished my very first fiction novel last Friday, it's a thriller-romance kind of thing. Beside my sister, whom is working full-time, there isn't anyone else that I know who reads very much; but I would feel embarrassed with my sister reading it, as she would recognise a lot of my own traits in my female character. So I ended up asking two male, non-writer, internet friends to proofread my story for me. Now I've got to wait patiently for them to tell me what they really think of it, I know they will be honest with me, they know I would expect that from them.
To be honest, I feel very apprehensive about people reading my work; I must be self-delusional, I'm afraid that someone might steal my ideas and use them as their own.

Elodie

ChaosTitan
02-10-2007, 08:01 PM
I don't mind letting people I know read my work, but I rarely expect any sort of constructive crit from them. You hit the nail on the head with "having to say something nice" about the story. It's difficult to get honest opinions from family and good friends, because they don't want to hurt your feelings.

That's why I love the SYW forum here. You can ask for a gentle crit, sure, but I love the folks who take the time to really point out a story's flaws. Praise won't make me a better writer, no matter how good it feels. If all you get from your family is gushing, don't let them read anything unless you need an ego boost (and let's face it, we all need that encouragement now and again).

Find an online crit group, or a real-life crit group. People who will be honest and forthright about your work. Even if you don't always agree with all of their feedback, it will give you new insight into your story.

dreamsofnever
02-10-2007, 10:54 PM
Whew, glad to know I'm not the only one who's leery!

That said, I think I sold my fiance short. He has been the number one champion of my writing, but he'll also read it over and tell me what works and what doesn't. More ofen than not, his suggestions are spot-on. The great thing this has taught me is that people offering constructive criticism can still like the heart of your story, and may even like it enough to offer suggestions to improve the telling of the story. And this is why I think constructive criticism is the highest form of flattery someone can offer me on my WIP.

And here's something funny-after my sis-in-law read it, she liked it so much that she recommended it to her husband and then he read it and told her "whew, I'm glad it was good. It would have been awkward if it wasn't." LOL.

Like I said, it's good to hear I'm not alone in being nervous about sharing my work! I've been fortunate in that my sis and mom-in-law have both given great feedback as well, but again, if my relatives keep telling me they love it, I'm going to end up with an ego complex! lol.

dreamsofnever
02-10-2007, 10:59 PM
Find an online crit group, or a real-life crit group. People who will be honest and forthright about your work. Even if you don't always agree with all of their feedback, it will give you new insight into your story.

And, forgot to ask... any online crit group suggestions? I'm actually on a hunt for one right now :)

johnzakour
02-10-2007, 11:23 PM
And, forgot to ask... any online crit group suggestions? I'm actually on a hunt for one right now :)

I know I'm in the minority but I'm not a fan of critique groups. I think they can lead to cases of too much input. They are also vulnerable to "group think." Plus when push comes to shove, unless your critique group is filled with agents and publishers (scary thought) none of them can actually buy or help sell your book.

I'm a big believer in, if I like my work other people will also like my work.

tela
02-10-2007, 11:23 PM
I’d have to let people know I write before I let them read it. Even my husband doesn’t know. It’s easier for me right now to keep it quiet. Once I’ve regained some confidence I’ll tell him. He’s been hinting he’d like me to write again and says he’d be supportive this time and not indifferent so maybe…
Tela

Elodie-Caroline
02-10-2007, 11:28 PM
I actually sat and read my own novel last night, on the strict basis that it was only to read and not to do any editing, and I really do have to say, I actually liked my own story. I have started a sequel to it this afternoon too.

dreamsofnever
02-10-2007, 11:58 PM
Id have to let people know I write before I let them read it. Even my husband doesnt know. Its easier for me right now to keep it quiet. Once Ive regained some confidence Ill tell him. Hes been hinting hed like me to write again and says hed be supportive this time and not indifferent so maybe
Tela

Awww. You sound like me, before I met my fiance. I didn't advertise that I wrote to anyone. My boyfriend at the time knew only because he was over at my house every day and I still wouldn't let him read anything. I can tell you though, once you begin telling people a writer, it's hard to keep it quiet! And sometimes letting someone close to you see is good, if they are the type to cheer you on. For me, showing my fiance (then he was just my boyfriend) was the best thing, because he has been my personal cheerleader since then. :)

And Elodie, that's awesome. I started to read my own novel for editing purposes and got very sucked into it. lol. That's how you know you're on with what you're trying to say! Good luck with the sequel :)

dreamsofnever
02-11-2007, 12:00 AM
I know I'm in the minority but I'm not a fan of critique groups. I think they can lead to cases of too much input. They are also vulnerable to "group think." Plus when push comes to shove, unless your critique group is filled with agents and publishers (scary thought) none of them can actually buy or help sell your book.

I'm a big believer in, if I like my work other people will also like my work.

I see where you're coming from on that. I think it's good to get input and have someone read your story, but there's definitely a case where you're getting too much input, or not enough quality input. Sometimes you just have to let go and realize you've done something you're happy with and submit it :)

scarletpeaches
02-11-2007, 12:01 AM
I finished my very first fiction novel last Friday...

Put down the manuscript and step away from the word processor...

ruecole
02-11-2007, 12:34 AM
I used to email my stories and chapters of my first novel to my mom, my sister and my aunt, but they rarely emailed back!. I dunno if they couldn't think of anything nice to say or if it just wasn't to their taste or what.

But I've since quit volunteering to show them my work. I figure when they want to read it, they'll let me know.

Rue

tela
02-11-2007, 12:45 AM
And sometimes letting someone close to you see is good, if they are the type to cheer you on. For me, showing my fiance (then he was just my boyfriend) was the best thing, because he has been my personal cheerleader since then. :)

I know it could be a good thing I still can't share it just yet, but being open about myself is not something I do on a regular basis.

Elodie-Caroline
02-11-2007, 01:39 AM
Thank you very much Dreamsofnever. I actually feel quite pleased with myself, I usually start projects of some kind or another, and never finish them, this time I did.

Scarlet. Ah, if only I could step away from the word processor. I started a sequel this afternoon and got over 1,300 words down, and there's my very first WIP to finish that I started over 2 years ago. But, I am going a few hundred miles away, there and back, for a trip tomorrow, so a rest from writing methinks... I can't remember what daylight looks like lol.

Elodie

Chumplet
02-11-2007, 04:41 AM
I sent early versions of my first and second manuscripts to my father and his wife. They both read them and offered lots of helpful advice about plot and character, but not necessarily about the common first time writer mistakes (passive voice, overused words etc.).

They are both so supportive that they sent both books to an author friend of theirs, but they informed me afterward. I almost wish they didn't, because the copies I gave them were at least three edits ago. The author is planning to mail me her suggestions, and I'm expected to call her and thank her.

They're so pumped up they keep sending me advice I already know, but I thank them and keep submitting.

Critique group or family member, a second or third set of eyes is always useful. Take what you need, and leave the rest.

Celia Cyanide
02-11-2007, 07:05 AM
I really don't like showing my writing to people I know, but for some reason, a lot of people want to read it anyway. I don't know why. I just don't like it when non-writers want to read it, because if they don't like it, they can't seem to tell me why. Either they don't know how to explain it, or they are afraid of hurting my feelings, when they won't. Writers understand how to give feedback. I just don't know why anyone wants to read what I'm writing, but they do.

seun
02-11-2007, 04:22 PM
My girlfriend reads my work and gives me useful feedback rather than just telling what works and what doesn't. A friend does the same and usually goes into great detail which is obviously very handy. As for my family and the rest of my friends, a few of them (and I mean a few) have read my earlier stuff and their feedback was vague to the point of no help at all. These days, most of them tell me they think it's great I write and show no interest when I offer them a sample of my work.

I don't have a problem with anyone reading my work but it does get a bit disheartening to chase them and get very little interest in return.

Stephanie_Gunn
02-11-2007, 05:29 PM
I'm with the group who prefers to send work for critique to people who I don't know in real life. I've actually been very lucky in networking through livejournal to find a few people who've given me very helpful advice.

That said, I have given copies of the novel I'm trying to find an agent for to my husband and friends. None of them have read it, either because it's not their genre or they don't have the time. I was affronted at first, but I find that I kind of don't mind now!

Sean D. Schaffer
02-11-2007, 09:25 PM
I'm one of those people who doesn't let people I know read my work before it's published. My reason is simple: I have a psychiatric complex where I let them read my work, then I look at it and say "This is stupid writing!" and immediately trunk the work. I take this as highly unhealthy for my writing, and I make darned sure not to let other people read my unpublished/unfinished work because of it.

Carmy
02-11-2007, 10:19 PM
I have no poblem sharing my work with other writers, in person and on line, but I would never show it to people who don't write.

ChaosTitan
02-11-2007, 10:40 PM
I know I'm in the minority but I'm not a fan of critique groups. I think they can lead to cases of too much input. They are also vulnerable to "group think."

Too much input can be detrimental to writers who are unsure of their work, but you can learn to separate the input you need from the input people are giving just to say something. It's a fine line to learn, but for many it's worth mastering.

ChaosTitan
02-11-2007, 10:41 PM
And, forgot to ask... any online crit group suggestions? I'm actually on a hunt for one right now :)

I'm sure there are others around, but the only one I'm familiar with is Critters.org. It's only for SF/F fic, but it has a good reputation.