I was wondering when people posted their 13 lines to get the most effective results on the forum...
Is it when you have a majority of the story written and are preparing to send it as a manuscript? Is it when you have the basics of the plot and are attempting to find the tone and style for the rest of the work? Or is it somewhere in-between? Is it different for everyone?
Thanks a lot for indulging me!
[This message has been edited by akeenedesign (edited February 28, 2008).]
I think that the answer depends on what you are looking for from the critters. You pretty well answered your own question.
If you want readers to help tear down your first draft then wait until you have finished a draft; if you want help setting the tone or style you can send it up at once.
I have done both. I once put a sory beginning that I was sure was gold. The response showed me that it was cliched and hackneyed so I abandoned it. Another time I was given such good advice that it changed my first 13 from a pretty good story idea into an excellent story.
I tend to think the crits are more meaningful when you've written or at least outlined the story. If someone says, "maybe you aren't starting in the right place" how can you answer (to yourself) that question if you don't know what came before or after? Also, too much feedback too early can destroy the story and/or your confidence in your ability to tell it. But then, that's just me.
I often won't give feedback on something that isn't complete or the person says "I just dashed this off" because the writer hasn't invested the time to make it the best possible story they can.
Also, it is probably less helpful for you to rewrite the 13 everytime someone posts a comment. Remember comments are just our thoughts. We're not always right. (* Gasp! *) But, if many people have the same comments, you might want to look at the issue. Never make a change you don't agree with just because someone suggested it.
I'm a big proponent of finishing the story first. Period. I agree with what kings_falcon said. I also dislike critting drafts that haven't been edited by the writer. First drafts are okay, but I find it a bit disrespectful of my time if a writer submits something with a ton of grammatical and spelling errors, or silly oversights, such as a name change mid-way through the story, things like that. I get super annoyed if I do a detailed crit and someone writes back saying, oh, it was a first draft. So, if you are going to post an early draft, I think it's wise to disclose that.
But I digress. To get the most out of comments, I think it's best to post something as close to finished as possible. This is the only way you'll get a full sense of the impact of your writing and story-telling skills. Otherwise, you'll always be thinking, okay, yeah, she said that didn't work, but it was a first draft, so that's not really what I meant, and I didn't emphasize that though I knew I had to. At least, I do.
As for tone and style, yeah, you could post to get a sense of how people will react, but first off, how do you know what tone and style you're going to use for a particular piece until you know what the story is, and secondly, I find it hindering to start editing your writing too early--you might get stuck polishing and repolishing the beginning and never get to the end.
Not to come off as cryptic but I think it is important to post your first 13 when you need feedback.
It all depends on how you work. I like to work really hard on the 1st page (revision, edit, re-edit, start-over) until I have a style and voice that I like. Then I'll blow through the rest and do the standard revision system. Twice I posted ideas (one,two) after building up just the first page. In both these examples I was not sure if the style/voice was going to work for an entire story.
Otherwise I'll usually post after doing 2-3 revisions.
In either case I feel it is important to post exactly what it is needed by the critters. Is the first 13 a work in progress where the author is looking for help on general setup (should this be 3rd omni, 3rd lit, 1st, past/present)? Or is the story finalized and is the author more interested in a line-by-line crit of the entire story?
I usually post when I'm done with the first draft. I know there are going to be flaws--sometimes glaring flaws that I slap my forehead over when they are pointed out--but I can see if the idea is solid enough to garner some test-readers/critquers for the entirety. Tastes differ, and you'll find what tastes are most similar to your own by trial and error, but you'll usually hook a couple. Then (the difficult part) is keeping an open mind when reading those critiques, taking a census of the common problems and letting them sink in. That is how I get my best results. After the first draft, I don't touch anything--besides what I agree with from the comments on the first thirteen--until after I have received and read all of the critiques. There are valuable nuggets in every critique, but, you'll find, if you try to correct everything everybody points out, there will be very little left of what you wrote. So, I sit on it for a while and mull over what has been suggested. Then I rewrite/edit. I have been known to rethink everything and start over from scratch, but my work has never suffered for it.
So, in conclusion, knowing when to submit the first thirteen is up to you. You can do it on the first draft, the final draft, or while you're writing it (if you know clearly where the story will end). But, it's how you apply those critiques that truly matter.
I hope this helps.
[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited February 29, 2008).]
I think the first 13 can be used anywhere in the process, but if you ask for readers I think you should be at a point you feel like it should be ready for submission and you are just asking for insight.
quote: I'm a big proponent of finishing the story first. Period. I agree with what kings_falcon said. I also dislike critting drafts that haven't been edited by the writer. First drafts are okay, but I find it a bit disrespectful of my time if a writer submits something with a ton of grammatical and spelling errors, or silly oversights, such as a name change mid-way through the story, things like that. I get super annoyed if I do a detailed crit and someone writes back saying, oh, it was a first draft. So, if you are going to post an early draft, I think it's wise to disclose that.
Since Annepin has received one like this from me. Very much by mistake, and I know the embarrassment if felt when I got a copy back with so many grammar fixes, it IMHO, should be as I suggested already nearly ready for submission
I have a group of friends that know all of my short comings, including my wife, who are willing to read the copies that need grammar help. Sorry again annepin! My face still burns when I remember that. No hard feelings I hope.
[This message has been edited by jeffrey.hite (edited February 29, 2008).]
Well, I'm largely absent from those particular boards---but I'd be inclined to post from both ends---from just trying out a first thirteen before writing anything else (or maybe seeing if it's worth writing anything else), all the way to having a finished MS ready to go and wanting to see how the first thirteen played. At least in the few times I've done it it went both ways...
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