Congratulations! You’ve had a genius idea for a story. You’ve even managed to get it all written down, more or less in order. You’ve gone over it once or twice, tweaking the wording, deleting pesky adverbs and restructuring awkward paragraphs. You went so far as to print it out, read it aloud, and fix everything that sounded stupid.
Awesome! You’re ready for feedback.
No, I’m sorry my friend, but you are not.
I’ve learned this lesson the hard way several times. It’s natural, of course, to finish up a newly drafted story and want instant feedback. Or, worse yet, to want to cross “submit to market” off your to-do list. Natural, but a big mistake.
A better strategy is to set that story aside. Forget it exists. Do this for a minimum of a week, two if you can bear it–solitary confinement in the filing cabinet. Then pull it back out and give it a read. Chances are the first line will strike you as horrible. If you make it to the third paragraph you’ll probably have found at least five instances of “that” you can cut. You may have also realized nothing happens on the entire first page.
This is why patience is a virtue. Draft. Set aside. Revise. Repeat. Then send it out to your writer’s group. Only then will your story be at a point where higher level feedback will be valuable. Plus, your writer’s group will thank you for doing the extra revisions 🙂
This one is always hard for me. I love my new stories (after all, their newness makes them awesome by default). They’re like perfect newborn ducks, fluffy and delicate. I want to send them into the world so that everyone can see how amazing they are, how brilliant. But I’m too close to them to recognize their awkwardness or see that they aren’t yet capable of swimming, let alone flight. Maybe, just maybe, if I nurtured and fed them and waited for them to grow a little they might not get eaten by the neighborhood dog.