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Critical Draft Review of a Novel

Loren

Reactive Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2015
Messages
337
Greetings,

I am looking for advice on how to get some critical eyes on a novel I have written (first-time writer). I am sure there is plenty that needs work, but where to begin?

It is a hard science fiction novel 116K words long, so that is too much to put online and I don't think it is a good thing to put a whole novel on the internet before it is to be published anyway.

However, I do need a critical review (grammar, plot, etc.). What should a writer do?

I have some people interested in reading it, but none are writers or experienced reviewers. That's fine to get an idea if the story is appealing.

What would you guys recommend I do next?

Thanks in advance,

Loren
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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blah - flags. So many flags.
Start with critiques here - 1500 words doesn't sound a lot but it will pick up any common mistakes. It will also show people your writing style and some might be prepared to look at more (usually through a swop)
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
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I'll move this to General Writing Discussion, since it isn't actually a piece put up for critique. (And I echo the advice so far.)
 

tinkerdan

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x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
I've never understood people having a problem with posting their own work online; unless you are obsessed with the notion that you have something that no one else will ever think of and are afraid to give the idea away. As far as publishers--editors--agents; it might make a small amount of difference if any of those have the time and inclination to search all over to find out if you previously posted enough to have effectively given it away to the majority of your projected readership. And if that were the case then I'd say you had a pretty successful website and it shouldn't take much to write and publish your next book so why worry about one novel.

If you only have one novel in you then this is not the business for you.
 

Ray McCarthy

Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.
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Making a chapter or two public isn't an issue. A potential trad publisher might regard that as advertising.
Putting ALL of it online in public = publishing. Then a Publisher won't touch it. Exception might be something serial in newspaper (e.g. 44 Scotland St, Corduroy Mansions etc) re-worked as a novel.
I have almost everything "online" but not public, the actual website is password protected, so that even some CMS software vulnerability doesn't make it public.

Actual direct "theft" is rare because decent publishing is as much or more cost than "writing" and usually original authorship can be proven. Plagiarism does happen, but it's not that common and often a "rejigging" of something successful (why bother with the publish effort for something untried).
Anyone can reuse ideas and plots of published works, just not actually copy it.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
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nearly the New Forest
Critiques here is the first place to start, but I'd suggest you put up less than 1,000 words in the first instance, as that's more than enough for everyone to pick up your style and notice anything worth commenting upon without being too off-putting as to amount. You can always put up a second extract a few days later if you're anxious to get views on the later part of the chapter, or another chapter altogether.

Take any comments from that and apply them. Then read around other other pieces in Critiques, and see the mistakes other people are making, and ask yourself whether you are making the same ones. Again, apply anything learned from reading and critiquing.

When you've been here a bit, see if anyone is willing to be a beta reader for, say, the first 4-6 chapters, depending how many words that would be. Beta reading is a time-consuming exercise, and before most members will want to get involved, they'll want to know more about your writing and how you interact here, how you react to critiques, and also whether you are able to offer critiquing in return and to what standard, which is why I say leave it a while. If you can find someone who is a good critiquing fit for you, then perhaps you could arrange to swap chapters on a regular basis.

After that, a Writing Group is a good idea if you can join or create one, either in real life or online.
 

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
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Sleeping in Lab
Geee, it's not giving the idea away... it's giving the work away! Like mentioned - 10% is more than enough if posted for critique.
 

tinkerdan

∞<Q-Satis
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x² + y² = r²:when x~∞
If you post for critique then it's not giving much away unless you are posting the actual finished piece.

Geee, it's not giving the idea away... it's giving the work away! Like mentioned - 10% is more than enough if posted for critique.
Which I highly doubt if you post it for critique; otherwise you wouldn't be asking for help.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
22,671
Location
Highlands
Greetings,

I am looking for advice on how to get some critical eyes on a novel I have written (first-time writer). I am sure there is plenty that needs work, but where to begin?

It is a hard science fiction novel 116K words long, so that is too much to put online and I don't think it is a good thing to put a whole novel on the internet before it is to be published anyway.

However, I do need a critical review (grammar, plot, etc.). What should a writer do?

I have some people interested in reading it, but none are writers or experienced reviewers. That's fine to get an idea if the story is appealing.

What would you guys recommend I do next?

Thanks in advance,

Loren
Yep, post the first 1500 words to the Critiques board:
https://www.sffchronicles.com/forum/critiques/

Then steel yourself for building a quick thick skin. Don't respond to any comments at first - just slowly digest the feedback you get.

A crit always stings somewhat - you think you've pegged something down, only to be told you're wrong. And most of the time, the call is absolutely right. So just be prepared for that.

Don't rush anything, though - the common mistake is to think that the book is finished, when really it's just a first draft. The next mistake is to lose confidence because your first draft sucks, because that's entirely the point of a first draft - and that's why published writers go through rewriting drafts to draw out the strengths and butcher out the weaknesses.
 

Loren

Reactive Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2015
Messages
337
Yep, post the first 1500 words to the Critiques board:
https://www.sffchronicles.com/forum/critiques/

Then steel yourself for building a quick thick skin. Don't respond to any comments at first - just slowly digest the feedback you get.

A crit always stings somewhat - you think you've pegged something down, only to be told you're wrong. And most of the time, the call is absolutely right. So just be prepared for that.

Don't rush anything, though - the common mistake is to think that the book is finished, when really it's just a first draft. The next mistake is to lose confidence because your first draft sucks, because that's entirely the point of a first draft - and that's why published writers go through rewriting drafts to draw out the strengths and butcher out the weaknesses.
Thanks!

I am an electrical engineer and quite used to aggressive peer reviews. :)
 

Ray McCarthy

Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
8,090
Location
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They use your blood for the red ink here. I don't remember that in engineering
(How do you tell a Mechanical Eng from Electrical? He washes his hands BEFORE going as well as after.)
 
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Susan Boulton

The storyteller
Joined
Mar 15, 2006
Messages
1,939
If you want an online critique group to join, try this one. It is fee paying, but it is not a scam. It has been going since the late 1990's. You have to give critiques to earn the points to put work up. I worked some of Hand of Glory there. There is a month's free trial.

http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/
 

Tim Murray

Through space, time and dimension
Joined
Oct 20, 2015
Messages
338
Location
Nevada City, California
Greetings,

I am looking for advice on how to get some critical eyes on a novel I have written (first-time writer). I am sure there is plenty that needs work, but where to begin?

It is a hard science fiction novel 116K words long, so that is too much to put online and I don't think it is a good thing to put a whole novel on the internet before it is to be published anyway.

However, I do need a critical review (grammar, plot, etc.). What should a writer do?

I have some people interested in reading it, but none are writers or experienced reviewers. That's fine to get an idea if the story is appealing.

What would you guys recommend I do next?

Thanks in advance,

Loren
Try to enlist friends that are English majors/teachers. This won't get your story up to publishing standards, (not in my case) but will flush out obvious "first book" draft errors. I am in the same boat after four or five re-writes . My first doesn't totally suck, but it still needs a lot of work. Chroners help you to another level and beyond. You can post on critiques now, so do it!
 
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