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 WORKSWe 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?