Possibly one of the most terrifying prospects that a new writer could face, the judgement of others on one’s own story. Friends and family are one thing, but sharing your hopefully promising story with the public can be a challenge to many who feel that their novel, while full of potential, may not be appreciated by the masses quite yet. As an aspiring author myself, I found this to be one of my greatest challenges that has impeded my progress greater than any writer’s block. But I found that once I shared my story with others, it boosted my confidence and ability to continue writing.
The first step I believe is to share your story with those closest to you, good friends and family that you trust with your story. A story is like a child, beginning as something fragile that needs to be nurtured. Once it grows a bit, you may feel more comfortable introducing it to friends and family. They will look at it and congratulate you on your effort and its progress, however they may not feel inclined to give criticism as they would rather avoid the risk of hurting your feelings. This isn’t to say that they found anything bad with your story and refuse to tell you, but that they may not be looking for things that need to be improved. Friends and family are there to encourage your efforts and keep you optimistic. Never underestimate the value of this support as it will help you get through the difficult times of writing.
But criticism is one of the results that are most important to the development of your story. Constructive Criticism is what helps you as a writer see what your audience may not like. It’s almost like having someone proof read your term paper before submission. Having a different pair of eyes read your work may find things that you, the writer, may have missed or didn’t consider. Remember that helpful criticism is something to be appreciated, never hated. As harmful as it may feel to receive criticism, it can also be hard for those who are doing the criticizing. I find that criticizing anything is a challenge in itself as it can be difficult to deliver criticism without being discouraging. As a recipient of much constructive criticism, I can assure you that it has almost always been invaluable.
As for sharing the story itself, I find that there are fairly simple methods to do so. One is through email which is very secure, easy to do, and allows you to be selective of who you wish to share it with. The only downside is that this isn’t public, therefore your audience will be very small and carefully selected. This is an excellent first step to sharing you story as it helps to make you more comfortable with the idea of getting your story out there. Another method is to share it on Facebook. First thing I must stress is that you may want to read the copyright rules for anything posted on Facebook. I believe that, if you post anything on Facebook, legally you still own it but Facebook is allowed to use it for their own purposes and will always have a copy of it. I’m not sure what they could do with it but realistically they probably wouldn’t do anything with it. But uploading parts of your story on Facebook is a great way to get all your friends to read over it and offer what they like and didn’t like about it. I tried this with the original plot of my story and received a lot of valid feedback that helped me grow as a writer. Another method, and my favorite so far, is to upload your story for anyone and everyone to see. I use a website called Wattpad.com to post the latest chapters of my novel. It’s a very easy system and allows you to post your work as you write. I’ve posted 21 chapters so far and I’m only slightly passed the half way mark of my story. It’s also a great way to keep your progress saved and share it with anyone by posting the link to it. One of the features I love about Wattpad is that you can post your story or stories as “all rights reserved” for peace of mind. I can admit I’m a very paranoid person and my greatest fear is that someone will steal my story and ruin it. If this is a fear you share as well I can offer something that my Creative Writing teacher had told me when I asked him about this fear. He said that:
“If you share your story with anyone and they try to steal your story, they won’t be able to write it the way you planned it. i.e. that they can’t possibly know how you would write your story and what everything is building up to.”
It helped to hear that as it made me realize that my characters are my own and that no one else could create them the way I had. My story is mine just as your story is yours. No one else can create a story the way you would envision it.
Always remember that its your story to share with the world when you feel confident in it.