This week at the SFF Seven, we're asking: how do you know who to trust with your writing, especially early drafts and idea bouncing.
It’s not a question of trust for me, it’s a question of the way I work, which is that I never share a work in progress with anyone, ever. I’m not afraid of ideas being stolen but rather that whatever story I’m telling is MY story, with my characters and I’m not interested in how anyone else might think the story should go. Ooh, you might be saying, crochety much? No, just stubborn and confident in my story telling abilities. Not trying to sound arrogant but I don’t need or want other opinions when it comes to exercising my creativity and telling my version of a story at the ancestral campfire. (For sure no one beta read or critiqued those first story tellers LOL!)
I brainstorm with myself if I encounter plot challenges along the way- I actually use a couple of techniques I was taught when I led teams and did process improvement, although in a much scaled down way since it’s only me in the room now, thinking through the alternatives and the ‘If this, then what?’ and the ‘Why?' questions, with the occasional Venn diagram thrown in.
I also don’t feel any need to share my writing until the point where I regard it as being a complete and finished work. When it’s done, I’m thrilled to put the book out into the world, let it receive reviews from readers as to their experience with the story, and move on to writing my next novel.
Part of this attitude of mine may be that since I’m not a person who plots in advance, the story unspools for me as I write it and therefore it’d be pointless to show the manuscript to anyone else prior to the work being complete because even I don’t always know all the ins and outs of the plot ahead. I do always know the ending, however.
Writing is kind of a fragile thing to me and the finished story is a strong enough edifice to withstand reader reviews and the opinions of others, whereas a story in progress doesn’t yet have that strength and if I got feedback that derailed or distracted me, I’d probably never finish the thing.
Maybe I’m missing out on a whole set of wonderful, rich experiences by not gathering with other authors and exchanging ideas on WIP’s…but I can only do me and my Muse doesn’t think writing is a group activity. She shuts down and goes into silent running mode. I'm happy for people who flourish in that collaborative group environment and find writing partners who share and enhance each other's creative sparks but I know my own limits.
(Pretty much Rule One of Writing to me is that there's no one perfect or right way that everyone MUST write...thank goodness!)
I do give the book to my developmental editor once it’s complete and has gone through several edits by me. She provides very useful feedback and I have made changes or added or deleted things in response at times…but I’ve also chosen to ignore the inputs completely at other times where I’m happy with the story as it was. Having the dev editor’s comments certainly enables me to grow as a writer and to avoid repeating some mistakes as I go forward with more books.
I don’t do beta reading or critiquing for anyone else either with very rare exceptions that had unique circumstances. I can probably count those instances on one hand. Normally I refuse requests to beta read as kindly as I can.
I’m a solitary person up there in my cold garret, writing away and telling my stories! (Well, okay sitting here in my cozy and warm apartment if you must know…)
Happy reading to everyone!