Is it useful to get writing feedback from friends & family?

millymollymo

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Finding your crit partners is a process you tailor for yourself to fit how you work, and your personality - which then works into your writing.
Every writer I know uses a slightly different approach. There is no "wrong" only what works for you.
Like Jane, I tend to keep my writing to myself until I have an outline, an arc and I have identified all the things I know how to. That's usually several drafts beyond first.
I've beta'd for others and shared my own work. and used online writing groups. Time is a necessity and luxury in being able to do this. My life is not that generous at the moment.
I do go to a RL group, who are more tuned in to understanding fantasy than anything in space. So I have to be aware of this "filter" when considering how to use their feedback. I also go for the "grown up, away from keyboard" aspect of a writer's needs - that often gets missed out. I've picked up crit partners from attending cons, specifically Edge-lit.
Good Luck!
 

Phyrebrat

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Agreed with all the above (except @Cathbad of course, but that’s in principle ;) ) but I would also flag the dangers of then straying into confusing territory.

Advice from writers writing for writers can be highly subjective, overtly technical and the loss of your own idiosyncrasies.

So you also have to learn who or what to listen to. That’s why you need a few people who really ‘get’ what you’re trying to do with your own voice/vision.

pH
 

James Bridie

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I'd go with this. I sometimes get feedback via a well-known writing workshop website (not sure if we're allowed to name them here) and it's like offering your work for criticism in a public square. There are people of all ages, nationalities, levels of experience and preferences (although the orthodoxy of commercial fiction is strong).

I like the image of the public square, and all comers pitching in their barbs and plaudits. But also the hint of warning of orthodoxy. A timely reminder.

Advice from writers writing for writers can be highly subjective, overtly technical and the loss of your own idiosyncrasies.

Thanks, I resonate with that.
 

James Bridie

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Remember that all the great electric guitarists were self-taught, eg Steve Howe. ;)

OK but not everyone may be a good enough learner (or teacher) for that to work.
I was going to say for every Steve Howe there is a Sid Vicious.
But that may be unfair to Sid. It depends what you are trying to do!
 

James Bridie

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Anyone know why a Simpson image has appeared at the head of this thread, as part of my post?

If posted by moderator could it be attributed to the moderator?
 

Robert Zwilling

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I like to write in ways that most other people aren't writing in which automatically leaves out friends and family. Passing it around at writers groups yields very little. From anyone who will read it, I only pay attention to what they didn't like, and then see if there isn't a way to fill the hole where the story lost continuity. When only a few people have read the progressing story it can be like the blind men and the elephant. The way I see it, each individual's opinion represents a segment of the reading population, so I take what each person dislikes seriously. I don't always agree with what other people say, but I do consider no one to be so unique that the comments won't be made by other readers. I don't act on every suggestion or comment. Sometimes making a correction can change the whole course of the story, other times it just patches a hole.
 

HareBrain

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Anyone know why a Simpson image has appeared at the head of this thread, as part of my post?

If posted by moderator could it be attributed to the moderator?

Some threads like this one get "promoted" to be on the site's front page, and when Brian (@Brian G Turner, the site owner) does this, he adds an image to improve presentation. I think it was announced in one of the forum upgrade threads.
 

TheDustyZebra

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Thanks TheDustyZebra, but how do those two different angles fit?

Does it mean you (only) show it to beta readers (only) when it is already ready to publish?

Or does it mean you show it to beta readers earlier, despite the fact you "don't like" this?

You've noticed that I'm a bag of conundrums, then. Well spotted. :D

Yes, I would say that I'm learning to embrace the concept of beta readers and the fact that even when I think I'm done with a story, there are things left that can make it better. No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, and all that. I'm even getting better at recognizing that it's time to call in the betas when I have a working draft, but that's largely due to the fact that I mostly write for tight-deadline contests these days and don't have time to mess around.

But family doesn't get to see it until it's really and truly done -- and sometimes not even then.
 

James Bridie

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You've noticed that I'm a bag of conundrums, then. Well spotted. :D

Yes, I would say that I'm learning to embrace the concept of beta readers and the fact that even when I think I'm done with a story, there are things left that can make it better. No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, and all that. I'm even getting better at recognizing that it's time to call in the betas when I have a working draft, but that's largely due to the fact that I mostly write for tight-deadline contests these days and don't have time to mess around.

But family doesn't get to see it until it's really and truly done -- and sometimes not even then.

OK thanks
 

Fivestrings

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I would let friends and family read what I had done, but I wouldn't take all the praise that I would get as confirmation.
However, my 10 year old son is a right fuss arse about what he's into. He's also not bashful about being brutally honest, and he actually sat down a couple nights ago and read everything that I've written for my story so far. A jumble of chapters in no particular order. So i took that as a good sign! :p
 

Brian G Turner

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Yp, I did leave an editing message which should have
Anyone know why a Simpson image has appeared at the head of this thread, as part of my post?

If posted by moderator could it be attributed to the moderator?

My apologies, I tried to leave you an alert about that. I've also changed the image to avoid copyright issues. :)
 

Luiglin

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If anyone finds an an answer to the OP please let me know.

I've tried critiquing others but I'm really bad. The end results are too wishy washy to be any use except for upping a thread's post count. I just don't want to offend anyone and/or give bad advice due to own inadequate techniques.

I'm ending up writing stuff that'll never be read.
 

James Bridie

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Yp, I did leave an editing message which should have


My apologies, I tried to leave you an alert about that. I've also changed the image to avoid copyright issues. :)

It's absolutely fine, I did receive an alert
but couldn't work out how to reply to it!

Have to say, I prefer the photo!
 

Titus Groan

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I would argue it's a case of finding someone who has a good eye. One of the people I send my work to has my taste, ie, they aren't going to roll their eyes at prose that are quite lush and expository. The other person I show my work to is a professional in sociology and often marks academic work, so they have a very good eye for fluency in both the text itself and in its logic (for instance, they know a comma splice when they see one).

I find myself always revising my draft with their two opinions in mind, and sort of fleshing things out from the middle of a Venn Diagram where their feedback meets. I have since dropped other beta readers (that sounds harsh, I still send my drafts to people who want to have a peep at them and still invite their feedback) because I trust that they both have a good eye for things that work and things that don't!

Learning the basics of editing yourself is also a very useful thing. Word processors often get things like apostrophes wrong, and they can't pick up things like comma splices, misused semi-colons, of-ness, and-ness, and such. Wrapping your head around sentence types (compound, complex, simple) and clauses (independent and dependent) can't hurt either. Having that knowledge makes even the most brilliant writing look like a series of technical things that you yourself can replicate with time and effort.

Finally, I think it's a matter of working with that part of yourself that is bound to get hurt when someone close to you (or not so close) criticizes your work. I think the less we worry about or ache over criticism, the more likely we are to send our work to people less close to us who won't tiptoe around things that our loved ones know will hurt. It's very difficult to spend months, years, DECADES of your life languishing over a document only for someone to say it falls short. Writing is very, very personal. Your dreamscape, your inner kingdom, that place you wander in day-dream -- its never going to be perfectly conveyed on paper. On top of that, what you do manage to get on the page is fallible and human. Recognizing this and thinking through it, rather than avoiding it, is a process we all go through especially as genre writers.

The key is to keep trucking on! Prose is really a highly technical thing. Work your prose muscles. Write write and write some more!
 

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