Thursday, September 16, 2010


I'm 20K words deep into my current WIP and feeling good. Characters are talking to me, plotlines are coming together, jokes are keeping me entertained, I'm in the zone. I've fought a fourth of the battle and am looking forward to the next three fourths. Every time I read a joke for the third time and it's still funny, I'm happy.

But now I want to share. It's an impulse that's caught me before, and I've blogged about being careful when you send your work out to readers, but I'm talking about my alpha beta reader - the P-i-C. He's read along chapter by chapter with the last two WIPs and I desperately want to hand it over to him. I want to hear him laugh, have him ask questions, tell me how much he likes XYZ, all the things a good cheerleader does. I also want confirmation that I'm not spinning off into some bizarro world where I think everything is great and rocking along but I'm actually writing about bunnies and communism.

But I'm a little older and a little wiser after the last two WIPs. His encouragement was indispensable in getting over the mid-WIP-blues, but it also affected my vision. Any time he came back with a comment, good or bad, it changed the way I thought about the story. Which is good for improving a book, but not so good when you're still writing it. Different writers function different ways, but I'm experimenting with keeping it to myself until it's complete, even for my alpha beta reader.

To be honest, though, it's getting really difficult. I'm having to fight the idea of handing over a chapter, or just a snippet, or just a funny conversation. I occasionally give in and read an exchange out loud, but I've kept these outbursts to a minimum. Or tried to. But I've still got about 60K words to go. I don't know how long I can hold out.

How do you like to handle your first draft? Do you like to keep it to yourself until it's completely polished, or do you like to hand it over chapter by chapter?


Dianne K. Salerni said...

I do hand it over to my alpha readers chapter by chapter, and it has worked well for me in the past.

But not this time. Halfway through, I realized I 'd made some serious plot errors. Now what? Finish a lame first draft because they are anxiously waiting to find out what happens?

Or abandon ship and start over, leaving them hanging?

I should have waited.

Tere Kirkland said...

Even though I crave approval, I feel like I need to keep the first draft to myself to stay true to my original vision. If something's not working out, I'll catch it (or someone else will) in revisions.

Great post!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I've worked on stories both ways. But I think I prefer to hand it over once it's done. It's too hard to think about major revisions when the first draft isn't even finished.