Some authors have "beta readers," friends or fellow authors who read their work, either when it's completed, by chapter, or just when they've hit a tough patch. My beta reader is my agent, Kristin Nelson. For Armed & Magical, I sent her the entire manuscript once I'd finished it. For The Trouble with Demons, I only sent her the first seven chapters. Depending on how warm & fuzzy I feel about Bewitched & Betrayed once I've finished writing it, I'll probably do the same (send Kristin just the first couple of chapters). Basically this is just to let her know what I'm doing, and what I'll be sending to my editor.
I don't send my work out (whether finished or in pieces & parts) to a group of people for feedback. I guess I'm just a lone wolf in that respect -- or more likely, I'm just a control freak. ; ) Any problems, snags, or plot snafus I have, I work them out myself. And my gut tells me if something isn't working. My internal editor has a very strong voice, and I listen to it.
I trust my gut, my instincts, my internal editor. The stories I write come from me. The perils of asking everyone you know and their sister for advice is that you're going to get as many opinions back as the number of people you ask. Not that asking others for advice is a bad idea, but never let this override your own vision for your work. You can't depend on others to tell you what's wrong or right with your work, or when a character is behaving uncharacteristically. Only you know that, because no one knows your characters and your story like you do.
I'm blessed that both my agent and editor share my vision for my stories, and we are completely and utterly on the same page as far as what's right, what's wrong, what works, and what doesn't. This doesn't mean that I take their advice over my own opinion; it means that most of the time, my opinion is the same as theirs. If Kristin or Anne say a line or section doesn't quite work for them, chances are 98% that I'll agree with them, and I'll make the change and the book is better for it. And if I don't agree with a suggestion, I explain why, and the line or section stays the way I wrote it.
So while there's nothing wrong with asking for advice, just be sure you know your own mind, trust your instincts, and stick to your guns when you know that's what's best for your book.
Some of what's coming in the few weeks:
- How to keep a story believable
- Authors are business people, too
- Writing yourself out of a plot hole
- Need inspiration? Look into your characters' pasts and air that dirty laundry. ; )
- Listen to your readers
- Keep the action going
- Real dialogue for realistic characters
- Say no to "info dump"
- Start with a hook, end with a cliffhanger
- Let every scene advance the plot
- Stick to a writing schedule
- Talk to yourself on pape