Encouragement Reading /// how it works and why it should be a thing

6:00 AM

So I mentioned on here a while ago that my cousin and I had the brilliant idea of exchanging the first drafts of our WIPs. I gave her 85k first draft written for nano of 2015 titled, The Thief's Conspiracy, and she handed over the first draft of Delitescent, a massive beast of around 170k words written about three years ago.

The concept of handing over unedited work wasn't exactly a new idea for us. Back in the old writing days, we would actually mail our books to each other. Our letters would contain comments on them with ideas and thoughts.

Come to think of it, I haven't actually shared much of my writing with her that isn't first draft.

It may sound absolutely horrifying to you. Send off your first draft? NO WAY.

BUT. It was actually a really wonderful, beneficial experience. And you know what?

It was encouraging. Ridiculously encouraging.





HOW IT WORKS

We did it in a "book exchange" style. So I sent off my work, and she sent off hers. We both sent our first drafts too, which is a big difference from normal book exchanges.

It's very important to remember that this is not beta reading. This is encouragement reading. You are sending your book (and/or vice versa) to the reader, and the reader's job is to encourage you. I'm not saying they need to say the book is perfect. They are reading the book for the sole purpose of finding the good in it, and pointing it out to you.

It's so easy to drown in all the problems your book has. All the plot holes and flat characters and inconsistencies that you need to fix. Encouragement readers poke a hole through the dreariness of edits and say, "THIS SCENE IS AMAZING!! KEEP IT." Just a simple comment like that is sooo encouraging when you're wailing in despair about how horrible your story is turning out.

Before you send your story over, make sure you and the reader understand what the goal of this is. Especially if you're handing over a first draft. The reader needs to know what to expect, and what to look for. They are not critiquing. They are uplifting, and that is all.

We used Pinterest to share notes, and that was wonderful because I got blow by blow reader reactions of the story. If you do it this way, I would recommend copying and pasting the notes onto a document so you can refer back to them when slogging through edits.


WHY IT WORKS

You might be thinking, "What's the point?"

Having someone read your book for fun might not seem very helpful when you're trying to edit. But, at least for me, it was priceless. Plus, you have a fan now who is not going to let you give up your story.

And you don't have to hand over your first draft. Maybe you have a friend who isn't a writer, but they want to read your second draft for fun. Maybe that second draft is even going to beta readers.

That encouragement reader is going to be priceless. They're going to help find the gems of your story, and find the bright side of it.

But if you do send a first draft, here are some things to ...


KEEP IN MIND

This is a first draft. Remember that. Most of the writing is not going to be very good. There are going to be plot holes and inconsistencies.

But the author is probably already aware of a lot of them. They don't need someone to read the book and tell them what to fix. They can do that much on their own. The later drafts are where they'll need some help.

Your job is to find the good stuff. The stuff that the writer might not see. A certain scene that you loved, a certain character who just sparked life, etc.

Tell them what they're doing right.

Because it's so easy to find the wrong in stuff, we often miss the right. It's encouraging to have someone point it out, and it's important because you want that good stuff to make it through the next draft.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend doing this. Just having one person read to encourage is so beneficial in a lot of ways. It gives invaluable perspective on the story, and makes edits a little brighter.


So what do you think? Is this something you'd be interested in trying out? Have you done it before? 

<3

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12 comments

  1. I LOVE this idea! I think it's great that you and your cousin are finding ways to encourage each other in terms of writing. It's an important reminder of support and that writing doesn't always have to be a solitary 'job'.

    It also gives purpose to the first draft and instead of feeling down about it, you get encouraged! I'd love to try this out.

    Thank you for sharing this Hannah!

    - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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    1. I'm so glad! Yesss I really recommend it. It is so amazing! :D Just make sure you both understand what you're getting into XP

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  2. You gave your first draft away to someone

    ...

    YOU'RE SO BRAVE. HOW DID YOU DO THAT? I protect my first draft from any scrutinizing eyes with tooth and claw ;-)

    I do see the value in this. Often, when we finish our first drafts, we're the most discouraged, so having someone to tell us our work is actually GOOD would be wonderful. Thank you for this idea!

    <3

    audrey caylin

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    1. It was pretty hard XP And I actually just handed over my nano novel which SHE REALLY ACTUALLY BULLIED ME INTO. I did NOT want to hand that over, but I finally relented XP And so far, I'm really glad I did. I'm 10000x more excited to start edits on it (I haven't even read it myself yet!)

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  3. This is a brilliant idea!! I think I'd actually be more comfortable doing this for someone, because I always feel so bad pointing out problems and mistakes.

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    1. Right?? It's such a great and fun thing to do! :D And I think it helps both of you grow.

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  4. Sounds like a great idea! However I'll probably try it way later in the future because... I haven't recently finished any first drafts. Ya... :(

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    1. Awwww that's okay! You're still learning and developing your style and your groove. Just hang on and keep striving and pushing forward. You'll get there <3

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  5. I've never heard of this-but that sounds like something I'd be interested in. =)

    Micaiah
    www.notebooksandnovels.com

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    1. We kind of made it up, I think XP I haven't really heard of anyone else doing it. But it SHOULD TOTALLY BE A THING. It is kind of scary though, and you have to be understanding and know what you're getting into.

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  6. WHOA. WHAT. You let someone read your first draft - YOU ARE A BRAVE WRITER xD.

    Seriously though, encouragement reading sounds like it would be SO EPIC if I could find the bravery to give anyone but my sisters my first draft. But I think my sisters read (and apparently like?) enough of my messy, first-draft words to qualify as "encourage readers" xD. Which means that I've TECHNICALLY, albeit unintentionally, done this before xD. Thanks for sharing, Hannah!

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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    1. EEEEHEHE more like an easily bullied one XP But thank you! :D And yassss GO SISTERS *high fives your awesome family* THAT'S SO GREAT! They definitely classify as encouragement readers :D So happy you have them to support you! <3

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