Peer Feedback: Yea or Nay?

November 25th, 2011

I’m curious about something: peer feedback… By people you don’t know.

I know most of us have a group of closely trusted friends we use as our critique group: those who we can trust to keep quiet about what we’re working on when we don’t want our amazing and awesome ideas to get out and have someone pull the proverbial rug out from under us and steal said precious idea.

I am, by my nature, a suspicious person. I was the one in grade school who always covered my answers, afraid someone was looking over my shoulder. I get uncomfortable even now when someone looks at my computer screen a little too long in my local B&N.

Yet, as I work on revisions and start turning my attention to the next step in the whole process, I’m starting to think more about getting feedback from my peers. Recently, I came across an awesome site/forum that (among other discussion areas) has a place for peer review.

note: what I’m about to discuss isn’t a reflection on any of the writing/author/whatever sites out there. It’s my being curious and posing a question to you all.

One of the areas of the website that has me intrigued is the section for Query feedback. There’s a part of me that really wants to post my query (when I get there, of course — I’m not quite there yet. But those who know me know that I research and prepare waaaaay before I need things) on the site and get some feedback. The writing and revising of the novel itself isn’t so bad — but as I’ve never written a query before, I find I’m worried about the tone and the format of the letter as, if it isn’t any good I’ve burned a bridge with an agent and can’t requery with the same project unless it’s greatly revised.

But on the other hand… I’m worried about tipping my hand with what I’m working on as well because the forums aren’t locked down at all. Being the law student who has done a LOT of copyright law, I know the ins and outs. I know my words are copyrightable but ideas aren’t.

Thus my conundrum: post and get feedback and risk someone sniping it OR don’t post and go at it wholly alone. Or, the third option, that there’s an unwritten rule amongst writers that you just don’t steal another author’s idea. I honestly don’t know. I know my own moral code leans to the third, but I also know not everyone would feel as I do.

And thus I ask: what would you do?

First Draft: Completed

November 21st, 2011

Well, my dear friends and lovely readers, I’m happy to announce that last night I finished my first draft of the Secret Project(tm). I need to go back and tighten up the opening sections to jive with a critique I got, but for all intents and purposes I have a completed first draft!!

*kermit flail ZOMG!!!*

Ahem. Now, where was I? Right. I finished my first draft. I’ve been writing for years, beginning my career with fanfiction and finally moving to write my own things. However, in all my years of writing, never have I completed anything of this magnitude. First draft came in at 73,000 words.

I have to say, this is quite possibly one of the most amazing feelings ever. I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling yet (and I know I’m probably annoying my roommate… and several of my closest friends… and my bestie) with all of my bouncing around. It’s just… I hit the closing sentence of the book, hit the period and realised I have done it. I finally sat down and did what so many people have said they’ll do (write a novel) and I actually did it.

My roommate said it perfectly: Writing is about having more than good ideas. Writing is about having good ideas AND being able to sit your butt in the chair and actually write them down.

Last night’s Simpsons episode (23×06; The Book Job) nailed this perfectly.

Lisa on Writing

I’m hoping that’s going to embed when I post this. If it didn’t, click the link (it’s a flickr video). I apologise that the audio isn’t quite synced, but you get the idea. It was a quick cutting-job. ;^)

But the point is this: writing is about putting your butt in the chair and getting words on the paper.

The next step is one I’m looking forward to: the editing process. I can’t wait to sit down and tear things apart and put it back together in the right order and make it even better than the last draft. Then once this has gone through several edits… then comes the scary proposition of beginning to query agents. *GULP* But that’s still down the road and I’m going to ignore that bit for the present.

Not to mention… figure out what the next book is going to be.