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To patronize or not to patronize: that is the (silly) question

If your old pal Tony The Tiger loves your stuff, it must be good!
If your old pal Tony The Tiger loves your stuff, it must be good!
http://biopsy.wordpress.com/2009/02/

Lets say you're writing something that is on the right track but isn’t quite ready for presentation yet. The structure is there, you have the characters down but something about it just isn’t clicking and you would love to get a second opinion.

Before shooting it off to your cousin, you may want to ask yourself what you're looking to get out of sharing your work before it's done.

Do you want to get some honest, maybe even brutal feedback?

Or are you looking for a quick pat on the back?

If you're seeking the latter, then that's fine. You've been working hard. Maybe you deserve some emotional support to keep you running on all cylinders.

But there is only a certain amount of times you can hear 'It's great!' from your friends before things start smelling fishy. And as far as improving your material goes, you will likely to get much more out of a brutally honest assessment from your peers than from an uplifting - if counterproductive - dose of personalized patronization.

Does your bff just want you to feel good about yourself? Might your buddy be partial to the story in question because he can relate to you better than anyone? These questions are worth considering before taking the notes they give you and heading back to the grindstone.

Of course, going to your friends for an extra set of eyes is almost always preferable to going to an experienced writer who may one day be able to help you take that next big step. When showing to professional writers, you should always be as confident in what you have as possible. Click here if you need a refresher on the pitfalls of pitching early.

But most of the time phony praise is not all that helpful, and if you're being real with yourself then you probably know deep down that patronizing is just a euphemism for dishonesty.

Besides, you're a serious writer with real goals. You can handle the brutal truth when it comes your way. And as long as you make your desires and expectations clear - to both yourself and to those you’re trusting with your work - you shouldn't have any trouble getting the most out of showing an unfinished piece to your peers.

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