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Author Topic: Incompletes
Member # 10427

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Some recent threads have shared intro-13's for stories that apparently aren't finished. I've been thinking about submitting another intro for a short story, but that story isn't fully drafted. Submitting the 13 lines feels like cheating somehow.

Can anyone comment on the pros/cons of getting feedback before I've completed a rough draft?

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Disgruntled Peony
Member # 10416

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Posting the opening 13 lines before you have a completed first draft might affect how your first draft comes out. That could be a pro or a con (or both at the same time).

The more concerning prospect, in my opinion, is that the possibility that feedback on the first 13 lines might keep you from finishing that first draft for one reason or another. That would not be good.

Also, if you don't have a completed draft when you post the lines, you'll still have to wait until the draft is finished before sending it to anyone that volunteers to read the full story. That might provide incentive to finish, but it also might leave prospective readers frustrated with the wait.

Random thoughts for the win!

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Member # 8019

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From a study of drafts posted here and at other workshops, a "completed" scale is evident. The scale inverse follows a composition time elapsed schedule. Raw drafts, about four times as often as polished drafts. Still struggling working drafts about half as many as raw drafts. Few and far between polished drafts. The number of incompleted drafts is about even with raw drafts here at Hatrack. In-person workshops are about the same.

The points when a composition can most benefit from workshop processes are the early raw struggles and the polish phase. The middle phase is best practice managed alone, for best possible realization of what a story is really about. The middle phase can be troubled by too much comment causing doubt and confusion. Developmental editors, ones who know their trade, appreciate that sequence.

Part of John Gardner's The Art of Fiction describes phases of composition enumerated above. Blended proportions of intellect and intuition accompany each phase: planning -- however much a writer will, mostly intellect; draft composition, mostly intuition; revision, equivalent intellect and intuition; and final polish, mostly intellect.

Gardner realizes that intellect is an analytical process that determines strength and clarity of a work, somewhat motif content and somewhat organization and arrangement.

He also realizes that intuition is a strong influence, that intuition drives the subtext, the intangible though more crucial and appealing expression of a narrative behind the tangible though superficial action. He realizes that that subconscious influence is about what most matters to a writer while writing, a process of personal meaning making of impacts from life, that drive composition passion.

Anyway, sometimes posting an incomplete fragment could direct a writer's attention toward what is really intended and meant. Sometimes, such is life, comments could not help. Gardner, L. Rust Hills, Damon Knight, etc., note that one of the more common narrative types offered for workshop is daydream narratives. Appreciation of what separates daydream fiction from a real fiction dream could come from workshop commentary.

A simple answer for avoiding daydream narratives is to evaluate a narrative's complication: want and problem wanting satisfaction, for whether the complication is of an appropriate magnitude for the length. Then as well, how easily the complication is satisfied. Not to overlook that a moral struggle and satisfaction must ensue.

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