Playing Manuscript Hide and Seek

Hi there, guys and dolls! I’ve been having some interesting discussions with some of my fellow authors lately and I’ve got a topic today I’d like to write about. When should you share your work with others and when should you keep it to yourself?

There are many authors who belong to writing groups and organizations and they love to share and communicate their thoughts and ideas with others. At the right time, it can be very beneficial to the development of your tale. However, if you do so prematurely, it can nip that fragile concept in the bud. Now what I’m writing here is strictly my humble opinion, not fact but do follow along and see what you think.

At the beginning of an idea, an inkling really, I suggest you keep it to yourself, or in my case between my two alter egos who write as one author. It’s not about paranoia that someone may steal your idea before you get to it (let’s all be a little more secure with our own creativity, shall we), but the concept that it’s not well formed yet enough to be fully expressed or conveyed to others. Quite often, what we think is a brilliant idea can be met from others with a cockeyed stare, as what we have rambling in our heads makes sense, but not yet clearly communicated. Mull it over, play with it, write notes, form your world and words within yourself.

Same goes with your first draft. Generally, it’s a mess, if we were all to be truly honest. Repetitive, wordy, inconsistent, inaccurate, and with gaping plot holes all at the same time. We feel so happy it’s done, we may think it’s perfect. Yeah okay, but think again as a reader. Now look at it. Thought so.

Revisit your plot outline, your basic story line and then reread your manuscript. See what I mean? If you were to take it to a group in that state, lordyloo, they would have a field day with it, or tell you that it was nice, dear in such a lovely dismissive way. Quietly, privately go over it again, read it through, make your corrections, fill in the plot potholes and see what you think.

Now then. At that point, you may want to discuss it with others, and I would suggest that you stick with other authors, your peers or betters and only on some of the sticky points. Anything that is grammatically awkward, or doesn’t flow – short points, not long passages. Take their suggestions and weigh them out, only make changes if it makes sense to you. Then read your work again.

At this point, you may want to read certain passages to people who understand the writing process and where you are in it with a draft. Giving it to your Aunt Helen who expects to be reading the next GONE WITH THE WIND, polished, edited and revised may be akin to author suicide. You may want to the resist the temptation for taking your precious baby out for a spin until you have a finished copy back from your publisher in your hot little hands for that one.

I guess what I’m saying truthfully is know your work, trust your judgement and use your skills. Seems that everything is boiling down lately to quiet confidence and diligence. Hmm, interesting.


Barbara Jean


About Barbara Jean Coast

Barbara Jean Coast is the pen name of authors Andrea Taylor and Heather Shkuratoff. She is currently hard at work telling the cozy tales of the fictional town of Santa Lucia, loosely based on Santa Barbara in the late 50's, early 60's, known as The Poppy Cove Mysteries.
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2 Responses to Playing Manuscript Hide and Seek

  1. Nanci Rathbun says:

    I don’t share my first inklings, but I do share with my writers’ group as I write the first draft. It’s saved me from some pretty sloppy plot holes and helped me tighten my writing, so the next revision is ready for a serious beta reader.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i used to share my work earlier on in the process, but I found when i did that often I would end up writing to the group I was working with and not writing the story I needed to write. It was a frustrating process. Now I wait until I’ve finished a rough draft and then work with specific writers whose styles I like to read, while I anxiously await comments.

    Liked by 1 person

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