Can Critiques Be Useful Before a Draft Is Complete?

Blue Question MarkIs it a good idea to get feedback before you’ve finished a first draft, or should you wait until it’s completed?—Lorraine G.

Getting feedback on your work can be helpful at any stage of the writing process (even if you haven’t written anything yet and are just kicking around an idea). Whether or not you’ve finished your manuscript matters little when seeking advice on how to improve it.

In fact, getting advice on both your content (is your main character too drab?) and your writing (is your voice too passive?) in your draft’s early stages could keep you from laying a poor foundation for the rest of your book. This sort of preliminary critique could help you avoid wasting time and energy on material that isn’t working, and steer you in the direction of what will work.

What does matter when it comes to critiques is not how far along you are, but the source of the feedback. Your challenge is to find a person who can offer up a valuable, worthwhile assessment of your work that can help you inch your manuscript closer to publication. That means, for example, that if you’re writing a young adult novel, you’d be best served by a skilled reader with experience in the YA genre.

If you’re willing to invest money in improving your project, you might opt to hire a professional editor. But you might also find trusted readers by joining a writing group or connecting with a skilled writer happy to serve as a critique partner (online or off). The cost here is time—your time, as you will need to critique work in return.

Regardless of the path you choose, just be sure to gauge the value of the advice being offered and exercise your best judgment on what to use and what to quietly dismiss—especially when your project is still in the formative stages.


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One thought on “Can Critiques Be Useful Before a Draft Is Complete?

  1. HuffmanHanni

    Personally, I think it’s better to get critques after you’ve completed your first draft and have gone through it yourself and rewritten it. I think that’s because I’m already pretty critical of my own stuff. I let my husband see the second draft since he has a good analytical mind although I think because I’m so new to writing, I think he tries to hold back for fear of hurting my feelings. That’s why I’ve posted stuff on online critquing websites. It’s good to get that kind of feedback and so far, I’ve been pleased with most of comments I’ve gotten and think it’s helped me a lot.

    I can see how this might be a challenge, though, if you are workine ing on a novel. Perhaps having some review a set of chapters. Maybe the first 5 chapters to let you know if you are heading in the right direction. Rewrite those based on suggestions and continue with the next few and let the same person review those in addition to what you’ve already rewritten.


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