Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When To Ask For Comments

I have heard many discussions regarding when to let your work out for comment. Not too soon, people say, because a first draft is, well, a first draft. You don't want to be stuck saying, "Yeah, I know I have to fix that," "Yes, I intend to flesh that out," "Yes, I do intend to clean up the punctuation later," "Yeah, I know I need to look up the right model number for that gun," and things like that. And meanwhile this reader is concluding that I'm a no-talent doofus with a lot of defensive excuses. Nevertheless, I do want someone to point out, "Why was Anthony killed in Chapter 3, but helping with the investigation in Chapter 7?" long before I've done 28 rewrites! I finally settled down to a double standard. It doesn't bother me to let serious writers see my work after just a little rewriting, because I know they know the difference between an early draft and a polished piece. But I probably wouldn't let hobby writers comment on my work until it had 53 rewrites. Thanks for reading. Joan Sween


  1. I'd add one additional thought here: when asking for feedback on an early draft, try to ask the reviewer a few specific questions. For example, one script I might use is:

    This is an early draft, so I know that there may be some problems with wordiness or grammar. I'm looking for your evaluation on the overall structure, flow, and concepts shown here, as well as any inconsistencies you happen to notice.

    Telling your reviewer what you're looking for is an important way to ensure you get the right level of feedback.

  2. Great suggestion, Mike! Thanks.