This is why I have trouble sharing my work.
On the last Trudge-Along Tuesday, I promised you I’d find five ChapterBuzz authors to recommend. I imagined that the change-of-pace would provide a nice recharge for me. I also thought that Sherlock Season 4 would be good, so what the hell do I know.
I’ll give the authors of ChapterBuzz this: all their novel chapters are better than any episode of Sherlock Season 4 (though not as deliriously, deliciously, hilariously bad as Sherlock Season 4). For each author I list below, there were three others I examined on ChapterBuzz before sighing and giving up. No first draft is good. That’s a given for writers. And that’s the obstacle you have to overcome when you share your first draft with the world.
Here are five authors who made a first draft for a novel and actually compelled me to read more after today. They’re ranked from most okay to most good. For the majority of these authors, I only read a chapter or so. Since my reading strategy involved giving up the moment I lost interest, all these authors did manage to hold the attention of a critical, capricious grump for longer than 5 minutes.
Shahin only has a few paragraphs for The Chocoholic Confessions, and there’s nothing particularly extravagant or literary about them. Her work represents what all ideal first drafts should be: a plain statement about what’s going on and how you’re moving forward. Unlike most advice book prologues, Shahin’s honest about how little she knows about life, and how there’s no “secret” to happiness. Right now, that’s the life advice I need. Also, I have no idea how an addiction to chocolate fits in with the turmoil of maturity, so I’ll read on just to figure out that.
Of the several novels Wright put on ChapterBuzz, I took a look at Angel Maker. This book isn’t for everyone. The first chapter describes a serial killer in Nazi Germany kidnapping and mutilating a young girl. And yet the description’s… tasteful? In a way? I got the sense that this chapter introduces the murderer who will be brought to justice by the protagonists. As opposed to the murderer being our “misunderstood” protagonist. Angel Maker creates horror not through adjectives (like bloody or murky) but through nouns and actions (the killer stuffing the victim’s underpants in her mouth). This author clearly had more practice at his craft than most.
P.S. won a Fan Favorite award on ChapterBuzz, and it’s easy to see why. The novel-in-progress is presented as professional as any online work. Easygoing and detailed, this book would probably rank higher on the list if I didn’t have cervical stenosis pain right now and didn’t have a deadline. I’ll come back to it. Here’s the novel’s synopsis blurb:
When agony aunt and magazine journalist Jennifer Pendergast inadvertently uncovers a crime ring in Johannesburg which leads her into the dangerous poaching arena, she realises that as she follows the trail, everything she loves will be at stake in the fight not to become a victim herself.
Nightingale was the most exciting of the ChapterBuzz offerings. With a droll narrator fleshing out a fantasy world for us, we undergo several developments as protagonist Rogue introduces her situation and begins complicating matters. ChapterBuzz offers a lot of high fantasy lit, but Nightingale’s the main one to look out for.
Rogue is an honest thief. Seryna is the Prince’s daughter carrying a heavy burden. Together they agree to help each other out in an encounter that should have let them part ways. Fate disagreed. Suddenly Seryna and Rogue find themselves on an unplanned adventure that will in time, lead them to the purpose they had both desperately sought.
Probably the best author I found in my search. The first chapter of The Ghoul of Grassville gives a clear sense of character, setting, plot direction, and relationship. Unlike other authors on ChapterBuzz, Wood didn’t need to bait readers using withheld information or vague action. He just started telling a story, as clear and full as he could. I forgot I was reading a first draft when looking at The Ghoul of Grassville.
Two brothers with sibling rivalry issues go in search of an urban legend. What they find will change their relationship forever.
I have trouble sharing my work online because I can be critical to a high degree. Each time I groan, inside my mind, when reading an amateur’s half-baked premise, my subconscious makes a note in my brain: “Polish your own online work, or someone will groan at you too.” Maybe I should fight that internal doubt. Maybe I should just polish harder. But to be a writer, I must give first drafts just a tiny chance, no matter if they’re someone else’s or my own. My own novel, Two Candidates Walk Into A Bar, is still a first draft. If I could find five first drafts I like on one website… maybe at least one person will like my draft too.