Thursday, January 24, 2008

Who do you trust to read what you write?

This blog is interesting because it's part communication device and part therapy session. It's also about one of my favorite topics, writing. It is in that vein that I'm am posting this week. I'm curious about how everyone approaches the concept of letting other people read what you are currently writing. I know that some people are very sercretive. But, I'm not. I really feed off of feedback. As such, I have two distinct groups that I give pages to. The first is a group of woman who I work with in my day job as a television producer. There are three of them who are reading along now. They're all smart and they not only give me great suggestions, they also guilt me when it's too long between chapters. (That keeps me from falling too far behind.) The other is a handful of high school girls who live in my neighborhood. They're especially valuable for making sure that as I get older and further removed from the saga that was known as high school, I still keep in touch with what actual kids are really like. What about you guys? Do you go the Emily Dickinson route and hide your pages in your drawer? Or are you more open with them?

2 comments:

jennifer echols said...

This blog is interesting because it's part communication device and part therapy session.

HAHAHAHAHA yeah.

I have two critique partners. Cathy lives in Massachusetts, writes YA, and is prepublished. Vicki lives in Utah and has lots of adult romance books coming out in the next few years. I met them both in writers' groups online and traded writing with them for a long time before I finally met them in person at conferences.

Now that they've both read five or six of my books, we have the critique down to a science. Vicki looks for global problems--the hero is not likable enough, etc. Cathy looks for small breaks in logic--why would they pick THIS moment to go to the grocery store?!? etc. My editors tell me my books are very clean when they receive them, and this is largely due to Cathy & Vicki.

However, there's one thing I can't do, and that's hand over a manuscript to them or anyone before I'm done or nearly done. I don't write in order. I'm liable to write chapter 15 before chapter 1. Even if I do write chapter 1 first, I will go back and change it a LOT before I turn it in. So if I write the first three chapters and let Cathy and Vicki read them, they will tell me the book has Major Problems--and it will!--and I will get discouraged about finishing that book. That happened only once. Once was enough.

The hard lesson I learned here is that the writing process is radically different for different people.

Little Willow said...

I don't let people see what I'm writing, which is easy, because I typically don't tell anyone that I AM writing, much less what I'm writing about, so la la la.