Hey guys, sorry I haven’t posted for a while, things were a bit jumbled last couple of weeks, plus I’ve been on a bit of Hunger Games binge since the DVD came out weekend before last (squee!). But anyway here’s a post that I’ve been giving some thought to.
My guess is that the second you finish a draft of something, the first thing you’d like to do is send it off to as many of your friends as possible and say “Please read this! I wrote a WHOLE novel and it’s brilliant! Please validate my brilliance with your approval.” I know I did. But the first rule of first drafts is that NO MATTER WHAT, the first draft will ALWAYS suck. Always. It may not suck as much as other first drafts, but it’s sure as hell ain’t perfect.
No sense worrying about that during the writing process, but just be aware that if you give your first draft to a peer to read right off the bat, you might hear things you may not want to hear, especially coming from a peer, or a friend, who if they’re a good friend will give you a brutally honest answer. Now I’m not saying that all your friends will think you’re a terrible writer. There are two sides to every coin: they will probably tell you things you can improve on yet also see the potential your story has with a bit of work, but be ready for a few people who will take this first impression of your writing at face value.
My suggestion is give it to people you know well, not just anybody, and the only exception to that rule would be if you’re looking for someone in your target audience, like if you’re writing YA, and you’re short on teenage or preteen friends and your only option is a kid you may have never met before but know through a mutual acquaintance. Which is what I’m doing with one of my own YA drafts.
Even then, if you still get harsh criticism, don’t take it personally (even if the person–heaven forbid–meant it personally). Just know that in your heart you have got what it takes, so long as you’ll always strive to improve, to keep polishing away at that rough rock to get that gemstone shine (I know that’s probably a bit of a hackneyed reference, but it’s apt, and I happen to be a fan of it.). Just remember too that your true friends will give you constructive criticism because they want to see you succeed, not fail. That’s why they’re your true friends. With them, I think, you can trust them with the first draft screen test.
With anyone else who might see you as competition and nothing more, or doesn’t particularly care for your genre, just be prepared for the possibility of adverse results.