Friday, July 30, 2010

How Soon Is Too Soon?

On Wednesday, I gave into my compulsion and began revising my new ending to The Thief Book. Happy, happy, joy,joy. There's some serious changing going on, definitely cutting at least 2000 words, probably writing another 2000 or more. This'll be draft 3-ish. It'll be interesting.

A friend who Alpha read Draft 1 saw my revisions-in-progress and insisted I email her my newest work. I said, "Maybe after this draft." She prefers now. She's just got that sort of personality.

The part of me that wants to hear what someone else thinks would rather like me to send her draft 2.5. The part of me that knows that draft 2.5 contains bad dialogue, an unedited ending with lots of extra words, and a scene of ridiculous melodrama, say, "Mmm... I'm thinking no." I don't know just yet what side will win out.

This calls to mind for me a debate I had a few days ago with Captain Film Major about the writing process and, more specifically, early drafts.

It is my personal belief that a first draft is between a writer and maybe a trusted Alpha. However, I tend to let my first drafts only be scene by me. I like to keep my own schedule and let my own thoughts have a go first. Also, my first drafts tend to have unneeded scenes, excess prose, and poorly defined characters, because I'm often making things up as I go along and learning as I go.

Personally, I don't think the MS can defend itself against the criticism and critique of any other reader (who doesn't love it quite as much as I do) until it's in Draft 2 or 3 at least. Draft 1 is rough and no one needs to see that.

Captain Film Major endorsed getting another eye to look at one's work very soon in the process. In some ways, this view makes sense to me. When I worked on Miss Snitch, I gave the chapters to an Alpha as I wrote them. She could give me notes about the characters and plot arcs as they formed, which for that project I felt useful, since I was truly writing that one off the cuff and didn't always know if it all made sense. Sometimes, also, an Alpha can weigh in on plot and character and open a window for the story the author might not have seen before or notice a hole forming that the author is missing.

How do you feel about this issue? How long do you wait before showing your work to someone else? Does you time limit change with each project or are you always consistent?


  1. Never consistant. But I usually only get readers after I've had a chance to edit and revise at least twice before I show anyone. It all depends though. For this latest, some people have seent the first draft on my blog. But now, I've got a beta and I've already cleaned up the ms. so I'm thinking it's nearly done.

  2. My first drafts always contain some unnecessary scenes and really shameful grammar. But I read them to my sis any way it helps to bounce ideas off of a trusted friend, it gives you new ideas.

  3. I haven't been consistent in the past, but I have been lately. My first draft gets read by two people - my husband and a trusted Alpha. I may share a problem scene or two with some other betas who will read later drafts, but never anything larger than a few paragraphs.