A couple of weeks ago, I met with my writing group and submitted my call to action chapter. I write MG, and I like writing stories where the families AREN'T all dysfunctional, and where the adults AREN'T idiots. (For the record, I think the absent parent totally has a place in MG literature. Just not EVERY place, know what I mean?)(And yay Random House for believing in a story with functioning families.) But lemme tell you, it's INFINITELY harder to get the kids to a point where they can go be heroes and save the day and do dangerous things when non-dysfunctional adults are around. (Someday I may write a post about parents...)
Anyway, my group didn't think my reasons for letting MC and BFF leave on a three-week dangerous trek across bandit-infested plains was strong enough, no matter what the stakes were, or how necessary it was. So, after talking through it, I realized that the only way adults reading this would buy letting MC and BFF go was if one of the parents also joined. (And it matters A LOT to me that adults can read this and get the same enjoyment as kids, and not find plot issues.) But changing that meant changing where I went with the plot for the next five chapters. (Since the parent has to get injured and head back so the kids can still be the heroes, and you'll totally forget I just said that in the 2 1/2 years before this particular book hits shelves, right? ;)) With that big of a change, I was SO VERY GLAD I am sending them my chapters as I write them.
But that way isn't for everyone! Another guy in my group won't send us anything he hasn't finished, because it's as bad for him to do it while drafting as it is good for me to do it while drafting.
Pros to critiquing while drafting
- You can get a sense of whether or not what you have planned will is going to work, or if you need to rethink things before spending the time writing it.
- It can keep you motivated to keep writing!
- When you hear what people have to say about your current chapter / chunk, it can give you ideas and excitement for what you're about to write
Cons to critiquing while drafting
- If you are a pantser, it can make you change directions in your book. Then after you submit your next chapter / chunk, it can make you want to change directions again.
- If you hear too much criticism, it can make you want to quit writing that story.
- It can be hard to listen to the voice in your own head when there are too many other voices competing.