Here be dragons

Writing is like a contact sport, like football. You can get hurt but you enjoy it. –

Irwin Shaw

 So you’ve slaved away for months on end to get your first draft completed and you’ve spent more months editing away all those words, phrases, and maybe even scenes, which felt so good first time round but now feel like filler. You’ve really polished your first draft and it’s probably as good as it’s going to get with just your input. And now the hard and scary part starts. Now you are ready to bare your soul in public.

I will never forget the first time I shared some of my writing with somebody. And I have some heartfelt advice as a result of it. Don’t choose your mother! In my defence I was young and inexperienced – but it’s not much of a defence. Choosing somebody who you know you can trust to be honest –who you can also trust to be brutally honest – is hard. I’d strongly recommend that family and friends are not the best choices. My mother was so honest I almost gave up as a result of it. She thought it was important to not react as if she were my mother and she didn’t like the genre I was writing in. I know, what was I thinking – and let’s be honest I was thinking that if anybody would say nice things it would be my Mum.

Be honest now, would you really want to be left holding a friend’s/son’s/daughter’s/father’s/great niece’s (you get the picture)  dream in your hands and have to deliver an honest verdict?

We all love positive feedback but in this case it’s potentially the worst thing that can happen. You need somebody who can be dispassionate, who can give you the unvarnished truth but in a way that allows you to take that truth and build on it so that what comes out is better than before. This is not to say that what you’ve written isn’t really good, the plot may be absolutely pitch perfect, your characters may be spot on, but this is a first draft and there will be things that don’t work – you need professional advice.  Or maybe you need fantastic beta readers. But you do need help and advice.

Going back to my mother – whom I love but in this situation I can’t think of without a shudder – don’t put anybody you have a close relationship with in the position of raining on your parade.

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