Honestly, this title is clickbait. I apologize for it now up front. What I really want to talk about is a way to improve writing quality in not unconventional ways, but perhaps at unconventional scales. I’ll explain that in a minute.
In our current times, communication and the ability to solicit is at unprecedented levels. Interaction between consumers and sources is lightning fast.
Help Me Help You (or help you help me?)
As an aspiring author, I want to produce content that people want to read. In some ways, I can only write from a limited perspective, my own. However, within that range, what the audience wants matters too. In times past, the only option for authors was feedback from “first readers” (often called beta readers now), and then editors and so on. But now, with the possibility of engaging the audience at virtually any point in the creative process, content can almost be customized to the desire of the consumer (to a point).
So far, my experience with writing books is equal to one. That is one book. Some might say I have “limited” experience. However, something I have noticed with just my one book is that people are a little reluctant to give feedback on what I might have done differently.
I understand where they are coming from, especially because most people that have read my book are friends and family, and it’s hard to give real feedback (especially bad news) in that case. But, there have been some readers that have given me some great ideas and suggestions.
The only problem with the great comments I have received is that the book is already written…and published. It’s too late for me to fix it (even that one blatant typo my wife’s dad found…). For that, I can only hope to improve in future works. And now, you might begin to understand the purpose of this post.
I would like to ask you for feedback on something that I am currently writing. The first draft is completed (finished it last night), but it’s still probably six months away from publishing at the soonest. But that means I can still save it even if it’s terrible (well, maybe, depending on how terrible).
The Future of Writing
Writing is a solitary activity. At least it is for me. I am introverted and I don’t like to talk much about what I am writing until I’m done with it, and even then I’m shy about it. And if you are actively reading it, I’d rather be in a different country while you do that (so all my Canadian friends, you’re good). I’m working on getting over that because at the same time, I want people to read what I have written.
Although I write alone, most of my ideas come from observing and listening to others. Conversations and situations spark ideas in me, occasionally at unexpected times and places. I once eavesdropped (this is 100 percent true) on a group of strangers having a very unique conversation on a train in the middle of Nevada. I surreptitiously transcribed the whole discussion in my day planner and kept that planner in a box for 15 years until I finally thought of the scene it fit into and the character that should overhear it. That scene is now waiting until I can write the right story for it to go in. It’s one of my favorite conversations that I have ever heard. Yeah, I’m actually insane.
But, this illustrates a point I’d like to make. If it’s okay to steal real life conversations from people that they don’t know about (is it okay? no clue), why not just ask for some ideas? With the internet and its many features, crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are now things that occur. So why not a little crowdbrainstorming for an upcoming book. I’m not the first to think of this by the way (Jeff Goins talked about this in a webinar I listened to once).
But this is going to be a first for me.
Your call to action
If you are interested, I would like your feedback on the first chapter of my next book. This book is nothing like the one I just published. Thread and Other Stories is a probing look at reality and our human nature. I love that kind of story. Not everyone does, and sometimes it can tire our brains out to read deep, emotional stuff like that.
It’s the same with writing. That’s why I am working on this next book, which is not so deep. Its working title is The Dragon Sword (so that’s why there were all those dragon pictures!), and it is a fantasy adventure novel (possibly in two parts…well definitely in two parts, but also definitely not more than two). This book has a little more sword fighting than my first book, more arrows, more magic, and possibly even a dragon. There are no elves though (don’t need any of those).
Anyway, here’s how this will work. I am paranoid about copyright and things like that so I’m not going to post the first chapter right here. But, the only way to get feedback is to let people read something before it is published. So the compromise is this: I will send you a secured PDF of the chapter via email. All you have to do is enter your email in the box at the end of this post (you can enter your name if you want also, but not mandatory).
Then after you read it, either make a comment below or check out this sweet forum and join a discussion there. You could also make a comment on my Facebook page. If you want you could email me as well, but I would prefer a forum-type discussion so others can see what you are suggesting as well. That is better for brainstorming.
How the email will work is that I will send a group email to everyone that is signed up for my email list on August 28th, 2017, with a PDF of the chapter attached. You can then read it at your leisure. Please don’t forward that email to anyone else. If you know someone that really wants to read it too, encourage them to sign up as well. Then come back here and offer up your thoughts.
Okay, that’s it. I hope you enjoy the chapter and amidst my anxiety in doing this I really look forward to hearing what you think of it. Be harsh (be nice too), but above all be honest.