So, my fiance (wedding is in April, btw) wants to read whatever I happen to be working on. I've let her read a couple things that were basically finished - and she's quite good with grammar and just catching stuff that doesn't make sense.

But........

I'm not real comfortable with people reading my stories until they are basically complete.

I'm curious how many of you use "readers," to what extent do you seek and/or accept their advice, and how early in the writing stage do you turn to them?


I have read what King says on the subject in On Writing, but just thought I'd seek a few more ideas.

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Congratulations on the engagement, Clay. I got married two weeks ago and have a bunch this fall to attend. Seems everywhere I turn someone's gettin' hitched.

Here's my rules under the Reading Rainbow:

1) The more personal my relationship with a reader, the less I want them to review the WIP.

2) The longer I work on something, the more willing I am to let people close to me read the WIP.

It took years for me to sing in front of my folks when I was in a garage band. That notion must have carried over to writing. I like to insulate my creative works from their muse. My life is my muse. Whose isn't?

However, when it comes to published material, I'll paint it on my forehead.
Usually the one's closest to you are the toughest critics if they are open and honest with you. That can be good--that can be bad.
I try to find a trustworthy reader for insight with the first ten chapters. And I post these chapters at a few sites
I adore my editor at SM/M, but my wife is my first, best editor. She usually sees whatever I've written the day I've written it. It helps that she's a brilliant fiction-writer/teacher whose judgment I trust implicitly--she's right 99.7% of the time.
I have a writers group that I love, so they get to hear my stuff early on. My husband used to read my work on a regular basis, but it has gotten harder to convince him to do that. Often, we'll just discuss it. We talk about story ideas and plot. My whole family (husband and kids) know my characters and we'll often have family discussions about the stories. The kids treat my characters as if they're real people, like those weird relatives you only see once a year at family reunions.

With all that said, I do understand what you mean about not letting people read your stories until they are complete. The few times I've brought unfinished short stories to my writers group, I haven't been able to finish them. The same can not be said for my novels. (So far.) :-)

I am in the process of trying to find the perfect beta reader for my work in progress. I've tested two so far, and neither of them have worked out just right. So, if anybody wants to read crime fiction, (and would like me to return the favor) let me know!
My writing didn't really take off until I got into a writers group. A couple of times I cried driving home from a meeting. The next morning I sat down and fixed the problem. These days I've narrowed my readers down to two, one who becomes deeply involved in the plot and the characters and frequently sees plot holes before I do, and the other who is an English prof and very good at line editing. My rule is that I take what I can and ignore what isn't helpful.
Editors are a different matter, and that can get tricky.
The problem is, you can't always tell until you exchange chapters how literate they are. I find it hard work to be going through correcting basic grammar (its vs it's, there, they're, their, etc.) I'm beyond that stage, and I want my reader to be as well.
I like to finish a short story before letting others see it, keeping in mind that members of Sisters in Crime are more likely to give hard unbiased criticism than loved ones.

Also, good criticism from a colleague or acquaintance can hurt less than insufficient or nonspecific criticism from a loved one.

Congrats on your impending nuptials - it's been 30+ years for us, a great and wonderful journey and I wish everyone this kind of happiness.
Kate
I show chapters I have doubts about to a writing critique group I belong to, but my Beloved Spousal Equivalent gets every chapter as I complete the first draft. She has a good ear for tone and not only spots missing things and incongruities well, but had helpful suggestions. I trust her with everything I write.
I have a writing group that I lead. Sometimes I share my work with them, but mostly they share theirs with me. On the personal front, I have a writer friend I send whole chapters to a couple at a time only after the manuscript is completed. He reads them carefully and then lets it rip. Tells me what works, what doesn't, what could if I changed a few things, and what he thinks of the story overall. I have to have a sounding board--someone detached from the story. My husband reads my work, too, which we then discuss, but if I want a tough as nails critique, then the writer friend is my go-to person.

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