Today’s Question: I’m nervous to share my story with anyone else. How do I know if it’s ready?
The bottom line is, you don’t. If you’re essentially journaling, and your writing is personal to you, never feel obligated to share it. If, however, you hope that people will eventually read your story, or you’d love a publishing contract, then you have to put your writing out there.
My husband is full of great one-liners. When I finished my first manuscript years ago, he said, “Honey, it’s time to stop singing in the basement and get booed on stage.” He’s a musician, so this piece of advice had a ring of authenticity in addition to the sarcasm. His basic message was that if I ever hoped to further my writing career, I had to put my work, and therefore myself, out there.
Easier said than done. I get it. When we offer up our stories to the world, we make ourselves vulnerable. We are now open to other people’s opinions and criticism, and no matter where we are in our writing journey, it’s hard to have our work criticized.
But, maybe we can reframe our position? Here are a few reasons to consider posting your work, even if you aren’t sure it’s ready.
The Inkitt platform supports your work-in-progress.
The whole idea of a platform that allows readers to interact with writers is so that readers can, well, interact with the writers! If people are engaging with our work, most times, it means they’re interested in it. Listen to feedback with an open mind. Learn to discern useful feedback from a difference of artistic opinion. Here’s an article I wrote on how to sort through reader feedback: Sorting Feedback – The Good, The Bad, and The Nasty.
If your work-in-progress has crossed the 10k word mark, it can be considered for publication on Galatea! Give yourself every opportunity to succeed. Here’s more on Inkitt’s GALATEA publishing app: What is GALATEA?
Your story might be better than you think!
Maybe your work isn’t perfect or polished yet, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t connecting with readers. Your writer’s voice, or the compelling plot, or the characters you’ve created might already resonate with readers. Posting your story on the Inkitt platform doesn’t mean you’ve completed the final draft. You’ll have an opportunity to consider feedback and make changes. It’s like having a team of beta readers at your service!
Constructive criticism helps us grow as writers.
I hope that my first book isn’t my best book. I want to grow as a writer with every project, and I hope my learning never stops. The very best way to get better at writing is to write more. But, we really do lose perspective on our story when we are so close to it. So, in my opinion, the next best way to get better as a writer is to have that work critiqued. Yes, this means you have to let people read it!
There’s a difference between story and plot action.
I think of it like this – the story is the overall idea of your novel. For example, Harry Potter is an adolescent boy who learns he is a powerful wizard, and who learns his destiny is to challenge the darkest enemy of the wizarding world. The plot is made up of all the twists, turns, and events used to tell the story – finding the Sorcerer’s Stone, the Horcruxes, making lifelong friends, learning about his parents, etc.
Through your plot, you’ll develop all the interesting bits that make your story unique, compelling, and page turning. But, the plot isn’t the story itself, only the component parts, some of which can be tweaked to better serve the story.
When I really wrapped my head around this concept, I felt a great sense of relief. I could make changes, sometimes significant changes, to my manuscript and still be true to my story. In fact, this idea allowed me to experiment with different plot scenarios without fear that I’d lose my way.
Your job is to tell the most interesting, dramatic, fully realized version of your story. It probably won’t be accomplished with the first draft, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to share your work, listen to feedback, make changes, and keep writing!