Work In Progress

07 Jan

WIPI’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about resolutions and goals for 2014. There are a lot of very ambitious goals out there. I hope everyone accomplishes what they set out to do. For me, I created an action plan. Because, that’s what I do. I’m a contingency planner. My goal(s) are simple.

Goal Number 1: Complete the SFD of current WIP.

Goal Number 2: Refer to Goal Number 1

Goal Number 3: When Goal Number 1 tasks are completed, Catch up on other writing.

There are a variety of tasks that go with these goals which I will not go into here. However, if for some reason, you don’t see a post from me for a while, it’s probably because I’m working on Goal Number 1. If you don’t see steady progress on my WIP meter (See right widget), you have my permission to give me a swift kick in the behind.

Speaking of WIP. How do you feel about writers posting excerpts of their WIPs on their blogs? I can see posting snippets from a published work to entice readers to purchase the whole story. However, WIP by definition is unfinished. What is the purpose of posting part of a ‘shitty first draft’ or even a revised piece?

Now some of you that follow this blog will remember that about this time last year I posted a handful of flash fiction pieces. They have since been revised to form the beginning of my current WIP. However, at the time, they were simply an experiment. My decision to turn them into a larger work has made me reconsider whether or not posting any of the story was a good idea.Would doing so jeopardize any chance of having the piece published traditionally? I don’t know.

Personally, I do read some excerpts, if they are short. I’m always looking for new reads and it gives me a barometer as to what other writers are doing. It has also exposed me to other genres that I might not otherwise have given a second look. For example: My blogging friend Jade, from Jade’s Jungle, has been pestering me to read some romance novels. Even though I read an excerpt from one of her books, I have been somewhat resistant. However, a while back, I won a copy of a romance novel “High” by Corey MP that has finally made its way to the top of my reading rotation.

But, getting back to the question at hand. Is it a good practice to post part of your WIP? There have been books written as a series of blogs and even as a series of tweets! There are books out there that explain the correct way to ‘blog your book’.  Perhaps the issues around doing this are a figment of my imagination. Weigh in on this please. I’d like to know how you feel about it.

Very Important NOTE!  My friend, Jade has started a new blog, Autism’s Child, relating to her family coping with a severely disabled child. Jade writes from her heart so, I believe it will be a very interesting, informational, spiritual, moving and emotional ride. I’m sure those of you who have developmentally disabled children will find it cathartic. I urge all of you who follow me to take a look at it whether you have children or not.


Posted by on January 7, 2014 in Thoughts on Writing


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20 responses to “Work In Progress

  1. robincoyle

    January 7, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    One question . . . what is an SDF?

    I think it is okay to post part of your WIP if it can stand alone. Otherwise, putting it into context would be impossible. Or, say, “previously on WIP XYZ” and give a recap of the story to-date.

    • Dennis Langley

      January 7, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      An “SFD” is a shitty first draft.

      Okay, I get what you’re saying but what is the benefit to the writer of putting an unpublished piece out for ‘human’ consumption?

      • robincoyle

        January 7, 2014 at 4:24 pm

        I have SSDs, STDs, SFDS, SFDS, etc. In other words, many shitty drafts.

        I guess the benefit is to get feedback on your writing.

      • Dennis Langley

        January 7, 2014 at 4:37 pm

        LOL! I’m with you there. Though I prefer to stay away from the STDs. 😉

  2. 4amWriter

    January 8, 2014 at 7:36 am

    I’m not sure, Dennis. I don’t post anything from my WIPs because I think excerpts taken out of context can be easily misunderstood. If you’re looking for feedback, that would be my main reason for suggesting not to do it. If you simply want to show the kind of work you do and you’re not interested in critiques, then it would be a nice way to build an audience.

    The question then becomes whether or not a traditional publisher is interested, because, technically, the excerpts are published once you post them on a public site. It doesn’t have to be in book form to be considered published, and I have heard that publishers do not like publishing books whose material is available elsewhere, no matter if it’s a scene or a hundred pages.

    My advice is to research some lit agents and publishing firms that you’d like to see your book(s) affiliated with, and see if they blog about this very thing. If they have an opinion, they will have blogged about it. You’ll get a better idea of whether posting excerpts from a WIP you want traditionally published will hurt you or not.

    • Dennis Langley

      January 8, 2014 at 8:55 am

      You make a good point that a short piece taken out of context can be misunderstood. That’s why I think it makes sense to post unrelated short-shorts of similar work if a writer is trying to show their writing style and to build an audience.

      Stephen King said that SFDs should not be seen by anyone other than the author, not even an alpha reader. I think this is very good advice. I’ve reached out to a publisher I met last year to get her take on it. It will be interesting to hear what she has to say.

  3. shelleyhazen83

    January 8, 2014 at 7:43 am

    I’m against posting WIPs. Though it’s a long shot, there is a chance some random, dishonest person will take a bit of inspiration from what you’ve written and steal your idea. And ideas are all a writer has. I also agree with you – “shitty first drafts” should never see the light of day. I’m also skeptical that it would entice a reader to buy a book… but who knows, maybe it would.

  4. Dennis Langley

    January 8, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for the feedback. WIPs tend to change drastically throughout the revision/editing process. What a writer posts in the spring could look vastly different when the book is published in the fall. This could be very confusing to the potential audience.

  5. Vanessa-Jane Chapman

    January 8, 2014 at 11:47 am

    I’m quite secretive about my writing myself, in a slightly paranoid way! I don’t like to talk about what I’m written in any detail, or show anyone who I don’t trust, so I probably wouldn’t post parts of my WIP myself. I can understand why some people do though – as kind of little teasers to pique people’s interest in their book as part of the build up to hopefully publishing it; I would see this approach as being more for the self-publishers though than those who are planning to go the traditional route where they might risk putting off a publisher from accepting them by having already published part of it.

    • Dennis Langley

      January 8, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      This has been an interesting question for me to ponder on. I used to be very open about what I was doing and would share my WIP with various people outside my writer’s group. That has changed over the past year. I am becoming more like you in that I have a few trusted individuals that I will share with. But even then, I tend to hold back a little.

  6. Matthew Wright

    January 9, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Best of luck with finishing the WIP! An SFD is vital to the process…infinitely better (in the true mathematical sense) than no first draft! I’m divided over whether posting “progress segments” is good. It might help provoke useful feedback. It can also act as a litmus test for readership. But equally, it might dilute the work. Not sure. There’s also the risk that what’s posted becomes the SFD after a while – thus creating two discrete versions of the book. Of course, constant revison – leading to multiple and sometimes not too subtly different published versions worked for Tolkien. A tricky one.

    • Dennis Langley

      January 9, 2014 at 9:35 am

      Thanks, Matt. When I posted this question, I thought there might be a more black and white response from the readers. But it seems like most people are in the grey area in between. I have reached out to a publisher I know to see how the traditional publishing world views it. If I hear back, I’ll do a follow-up post.

  7. IntrovertedSarah

    January 9, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I’m extremely nervous about posting bits and pieces. As you said it can be taken out of context. Once you have your finished – not at all shitty – manuscript then I would encourage you to post a first chapter.

    • Dennis Langley

      January 10, 2014 at 7:45 am

      Thanks for the visit and input. I’m interested to hear why you feel posting the first chapter would be okay. Are saying that this would be the enticement for the reader to want the book?

      • IntrovertedSarah

        January 10, 2014 at 6:27 pm

        Yes, I think so. You can get some blogger feedback on it after the whole thing is finished.

  8. Catherine Austen

    January 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I like the idea of blogging bits and pieces of a larger work, so long as each bit is complete in itself in some way (a self-contained scene or story), like a serialization via blog posts. I’m a plodding planning type of writer, so it would be a fun experiment to write and polish on the fly and, say, post a new scene each Monday, without knowing where the story would go the following week.

    But I wouldn’t do that with something I intended to publish traditionally. My publisher wouldn’t be interested in it. (I’m not sure about the policies of most houses on books with only small excerpts published, but they don’t generally look at work previously published anywhere, including online.)

    Also, I would polish each scene several times before posting. There is no benefit to publishing a shitty first draft. None. Don’t do it. First, it’s asking way too much of readers. (Even critique partners try to work on a piece to the best of their ability before seeking advice.) And second, if comments are lukewarm or worse, that can crush your motivation to write the story. There’s a euphoria in drafting that makes us want to share, but don’t. Don’t put your worst foot forward. Don’t publish anything until it says what you want it to say.

    Then again, some people write really good first drafts and maybe they could get away with it. 🙂

    • Dennis Langley

      January 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks for the feedback.First drafts are definitely not for human consumption. 🙂 It would be neat if first drafts were always good! Unfortunately…

  9. Pete Denton

    January 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I’m always dubious about posting anything novel related. I think short stories or flash fiction is okay, but I’ve read on numerous other blogs about traditional publishers treating a blog as publishing the work and turning people down.

    If you’re going the self-publishing route then I guess all bets are off, but you would only want teasers otherwise you’re just giving your work away.

    Tough call either way, but good luck deciding which way to go. 🙂

    • Dennis Langley

      January 11, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      You seem to be in the majority with your views. And, it makes perfect sense. Thanks for your feedback.

      • Pete Denton

        January 12, 2014 at 7:28 am

        No problem 🙂


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