One of my favorite sites is Reddit. For those not familiar, it is a news aggregate that is user supported. People find cool links to news articles or other blogs and submit them. One aspect of Reddit is being able to submit a text link. Basically like a forum post.
One particular subreddit, r/write–a reddit section geared to a specific topic–is geared to people posting their work for critique. I check it out from time to time but never really post there myself. Mostly because I’ve noticed a trend there that I don’t particularly enjoy.
Many people submit something and say this:
Here is my first chapter, should is it good? Should I keep going?
My initial reaction to every one of these is to say, “No.” Even without reading it. I understand a lot of these writers are insecure about their work. I understand that they are looking for validation before spending a lot of time on a piece of work. But there are two things I believe in that would help them greatly.
First off I believe you’re better off finishing a terrible book than writing and stopping one. Because with the former, you have something to work with. Bad writing can be tweaked and nuanced into good writing. It takes thousands of man-hours of writing bad first drafts in order to be able to write good first drafts. Which leads me to the second point.
Of course it isn’t good. It’s your first draft. And showing it off to complete strangers on the Internet isn’t going to get you anywhere. Some will stroke your ego. More are going to smell blood and rip you to pieces. Find a local critique group to meet with and get a focused, well informed opinion.
Basically, I feel these people are jumping the gun. They wrote a few hundred, maybe a few thousand words, and need to show everyone right away.
Take a breath.
Tweak the work over a week and do a few edits. Then show it to some other local writers. Take their notes and then do some more tweaking. There is a reason they say writing is rewriting.