I got the idea of writing a novel, I'm just afraid to show it to other since It's not yet done. Is that okay? thanks

  • 3
    There is nothing wrong with believing that your work is not ready to be seen by others yet. Many of the greats are/were their own harshest critics.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 3:55
  • 1
    One good thing about showing your drafts early is that you can save a lot of wasted time polishing chapters that no one will read.
    – alex
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 12:12

5 Answers 5


Yes. In fact, it's better that way. Keep it to yourself until you've revised and revised and revised before you show it to anyone. But when you do, have a thick skin about it.

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    Eventually you'll run out of things to change. Well, you'll run out of major things to change. You can make little fixes for the rest of your life. But when you've finished filling in plot holes, and patching up character descriptions you'll be ready to share. Commented May 1, 2017 at 23:05
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    I disagree. In my experience, it's best to show work to others early. Tell your readers that it's an early draft and that you want feedback about big-picture issues. You can even use placeholder text for gaps you'll fill in later: "[A scene where Sharon throws her husband out]" If they're good readers, they'll read around the known issues and give you feedback that will help you shape your story. Commented May 2, 2017 at 13:48

It is your choice. But I would recommend you only show a draft if it is your latest draft.

However, keep all drafts if you need to go to court for any copyright issues (for further explanation on copyright issues, see my answer to this question.

  • "...only show a draft if it is your latest draft." Do you mean don't show your prior drafts? I'm not sure why you'd show drafts that you've already improved on. Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 20:33
  • Should I seek help from others? how? in what ways?
    – Frederick
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 21:48
  • Frederick, if you know someone who is a writer, ask them for tips on editing. Show them your latest draft and ask them how you can make your next draft better.
    – James
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 6:41

There is an anecdote about Henry Kissinger from when he was a professor. At one point a student had handed in a paper, and had dropped by his office to receive the graded result.

"Is that the best you can do?" Kissinger said dismissively, handing the paper back.

"No, the student sheepishly admitted. "I suppose there is quite a bit that could be better." He received the paper, went over it, and handed it back in later.

When he visited the professor's office to receive his grade, the professor was almost as harsh. "I can't believe this is the best you can do," he said. Again, the student retreated to his own place, and went over the paper again, finding a few areas that had missed his previous examination. He corrected these and handed the results in to the professor.

"Are you sure this is the best you can do?" the professor said.

"Yes," the student said. "I have gone over this paper twice. I cannot find a single weakness in any part of it. This is the best I am capable of doing."

"Good," Kissinger said. "I'll read it."

  • Yes I heard that one too... Very typical of the man! Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 19:29

If you don't feel ready to show it to other people, there is still someone who can take a critical look at the work and offer feedback: your future self.

If you leave the first draft of a novel alone for six months, say, but spend those six months continuously working on your writing (and reading, and reading about writing etc), you will be a better writer and a more capable critic by the time you re-read the novel. Your future self could be just as valuable a critic as a different person.

This will also help your ability to take a step back from your own work and look at it without the emotions that come from being too involved in the work. If you find that you are able to say 'what the hell was I thinking?!' when you read a particular section, then you will know that you are now better than you were when you wrote the novel.

You can repeat this cycle a couple of times until you feel more confident that the work has improved, and at that point you can bring in other readers to give you their views.

  • Yes, I don't feel it yet. I'm still working on the emotions of the characters and making it realistic. I don't know if I could finish it well.
    – Frederick
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 21:51
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    That's ok! Keep on practicing and reading, and you'll be able to get there. In my experience (I've been writing seriously in my 'spare time' for about four years now) writing fiction isn't one skill, it's tons of skills that all have to happen at once. It's seriously daunting. You could spend some time working on elements like 'character emotion' and 'making things feel realistic' separately to the other elements. I've found that approach helpful myself, and I've made good improvements that way.
    – manyaceist
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 9:54
  • Another useful resource is this podcast: writingexcuses.com Mainly aimed at SF writers, but contains lots of stuff that can apply to any fiction.
    – manyaceist
    Commented Apr 29, 2017 at 9:54

In my own writing life, I've found my small group of trusted readers to be more beneficial than my own self-critique.

They find a lot of issues I've been staring at for weeks without seeing: rough spots where characters are ill-defined, gaps in the plot, slips in characters' voices, etc. And of course, they'll note what's working well.

Even in early, rough drafts they'll see themes and metaphors that I hadn't discovered myself, discoveries that sometimes steer the story in new, better directions.

So yes, it's okay to keep your drafts to yourself, giving it to a select few will benefit you and your work a great deal.

  • That helped me a lot too Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 19:29
  • I'm just trying to write the ideas in my mind, some of my dreams and mostly are in my childhood curiosity. I just started to write it down this year, since I just started reading books after I graduated college. I don't have any formal study regarding on wring novel or even an article.
    – Frederick
    Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 21:55
  • If you're writing just for yourself, then there's no need to show it to anyone. My answer assumed you wanted to polish your work for publication. Commented May 1, 2017 at 12:52

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