Writing – when should you show all?

Today the writing question I’m grappling with (and there’s a new problem I’m worrying over most days when it comes to what is meant to be my favourite pastime) is when should you show your work?

I’m lucky in many respects as I do actually have quite a few people who are happy to read things I’ve written and give me, often constructive, criticism. And we all know how important it is to figure out if the things you are spilling out on the page make sense, or are even enjoyable, to anyone but yourself. The thing is that sometimes I worry that I’m giving people things too early, or occasionally too late.

When I let people read things in a very early draft I often find that the criticisms I receive are in the areas that I’m not too fussed about at that point, for example spelling or grammar, when what I’m really struggling with is timeline or plot devices. Conversely, if I wait until I’m in the final stages I often feel as though the story has solidified too far for me to make substantial changes.

Although, I suppose these could just be excuses for me to keep the work to myself and away from people helpfully pointing out potential problems… but it’s nice to think that there could be an ideal reading period out there, and that there are ideal readers.

That’s another tricky thing actually, I hate revealing too much to the people I ask to read my stuff. Mainly because if I don’t, I can use their reactions to decided what I need to change or focus on to make my point clear. But that does mean losing them as a sounding board because you can’t risk bouncing ideas off them in case it colours their view.

I suppose that’s what an editor is for – if you’re lucky enough not only to have an editor, but also one that is able to devote time to your specific projects. For now though, I’ll just have to carry on putting myself at the mercy of my friends and fellow writers and hope I don’t end up exhausting their patience anytime soon.

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