Dan J. Fiore's picture
Dan J. Fiore from Pittsburgh is reading too many things at once October 9, 2014 - 12:20pm

I've noticed a lot of submissions in the workshop lately that are small pieces of a larger whole. Knowing how difficult and frustrating it can be to workshop an entire novel just one chapter at a time, I'm wondering how open other writers might be to a "SwapShop" format.

So why not open a thread and see what everyone thinks?

Basically, you'd post your novel's Title, Genre, and Word Count. If someone has something similar in their WIP drawer, they can PM you to see if you'd like to swap novel drafts with you. From there, it's up to y'all. Exchange notes. Have a discussion. Make each other's work better.

Thoughts? Does this sound better or worse than a chapter-by-chapter process where you might not have the same readers commenting on different parts of your novel, or the time between submitting Chapter One and the Epilogue could span several months?

I'm curious.

Kacie Cunningham's picture
Kacie Cunningham from Indiana is reading too much to keep this updated October 9, 2014 - 4:32pm

I love the idea. I like to read things out of my genre though, so even though I write women's fiction, I'd like to read fantasy or other stuff too. 

Dan J. Fiore's picture
Dan J. Fiore from Pittsburgh is reading too many things at once October 9, 2014 - 4:57pm

Thanks Kacie. Yeah, I figure most people would be in the same boat. Maybe in the same post there'd be a little info on the other genres the poster would be interested in reading. No need to limit exchanges within a singular genre. Good point!

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest October 9, 2014 - 5:32pm

Yeah, I like this. We need to work this out. Maybe LR could get involved (I'm calling you out Nathan) and devise a separate, novel/novella system. Possibly break down the four categories into specifics. A higher point system? Idk, just going off the top of my head here. Regardless, I like the idea and I'd definitely be in.

Dan J. Fiore's picture
Dan J. Fiore from Pittsburgh is reading too many things at once October 9, 2014 - 6:00pm

I like the idea of a higher point system. You definitely need some sort of accountability to keep people honest. I also like the idea of a public scoring system. That way someone can see how reliable (or, more importantly, unreliable) you've been in past exchanges before they agree to swap with you. It would suck to read someone else's novel and give them pages upon pages of useful notes when all they give you in return is basically "I liked it. Good job." There has to be some way to keep that from happening and I think public shaming would do the trick.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami October 9, 2014 - 6:04pm

So like if I did dystopian, I would mention it in that format?

I'm still trying to make my own novella the best it can be before I submit it to the workshop in a few months. Experimenting with a cross-over between second and first person to make you feel like the main character is talking to you.

Dan J. Fiore's picture
Dan J. Fiore from Pittsburgh is reading too many things at once October 9, 2014 - 6:14pm

Yeah, I guess you could classify or describe it as much as you want. It would probably make sense to add a synopsis/notes option so the author could elaborate beyond Title, Genre and Word Count. Like if you are experimenting with POVs, you should be able to mention that as I'm sure that's right up someone's alley out there. I suppose the more info you are able to give the more likely you're going to find someone who's a good fit for what you've written.

Jenn Collins's picture
Jenn Collins from Wisconsin, USA is reading Spunk and Bite October 9, 2014 - 7:18pm

This is a fantastic idea.  I don't mind the chapter by chapter review process going on in the Workshop but it is hard to get a good feel for the flow of a story when you read Part One three weeks ago and have reviewed a dozen other stories since then.  And I think a higher point system is key.



Chacron's picture
Chacron from England, South Coast is reading Fool's Assassin by Robin Hobb October 10, 2014 - 10:59am

I love the idea of a novel swap system, but I have to be honest: this sort of thing works better by private arrangement, in my opinion. I would rather LR was kept for shorter fiction or excerpts. It's a good meeting place for other writers, and if you really get into each other's stuff then you can swap outside of Litreactor. Email inboxes are always open.

Dan hits it bang on the nail when he says there has to be a pretty high level of confidence and trust involved before you give someone an in depth critique on a long piece - you have to know you'd get something back. So here's a case in point: I was pretty much doing the novel swap thing with one member on here a year or so ago. Tim Johnson did a fair amount of critiquing what eventually became Shadow's Talent both on and off the board, so what I did in return was do some long LBLs on his debut novel Carrier (which he did get a deal for, and I believe it's released next month through Permuted Press.) At a rough estimate, including what we've done with shorter work in the workshop here, we must have LBLd around 60,000 words worth of content for each other. Neither of us went through the entire novel, but this was good example of a writer's working relationship that began with the workshop but then spread to outside the Litreactor site, and it worked. I get the feeling such arrangements don't happen very often, but when they do they don't really need this site to keep them going or act as a structure for them. I prefer doing novel swapping the independent way.

Anna Gutmann's picture
Anna Gutmann from Ohio is reading American Gods October 14, 2014 - 4:41pm

I see both options as equally beneficial. I like being able to submit one to two chapters at a time in workshop, because by the time all chapters have been submitted I have an in-depth look at each chapter from an editing perspective. But it's also frustrating once finished to find beta readers after those edits have been done. I don't want to resubmit a revised copy in pieces after bogging down the workshop with chapter-by-chapter submissions.

I'm currently writing a manuscript slated to be 34 chapters and between 70,000 to 80,000 words long. When it's completed, it would be nice to have one or two of the people from the workshop who would agree to read the novel as a whole without me having to submit via WW. Right now I'm submitting chapter by chapter but once the first draft is completed, it's always beneficial to have another pass through done by an impartial reader of the entire piece. Doing a swap is a good way to pay each other for the work of doing a full-novel review.

I also agree a better point system needs to be put in place on WW. I think I'm technically #3 on the points leaderboard so you'd think that would mean I have loads of extra points, but I actually only have 12. I am active enough on WW to submit frequently (I literally review every piece that is posted) but I think getting something like 5 points instead of only 3 for a very helpful review would be more reasonable. This also connects to Jenn's point, because if you're submitting in chapters and don't have enough points to submit at least once or twice a week, your dedicated readers get lost in other submissions and by the time they get back to your story the plot is no longer fresh in their minds. Not to mention reviewing takes a lot of time and I wish I could reward people better!

Jenn Collins's picture
Jenn Collins from Wisconsin, USA is reading Spunk and Bite October 15, 2014 - 5:10am

Anna, having read your chapters I'd absolutely read your manuscript when it is completed.  Do keep me in mind for a future swap.

Anna Gutmann's picture
Anna Gutmann from Ohio is reading American Gods October 15, 2014 - 6:04am

Will do, Jenn :-)

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated October 15, 2014 - 3:43pm

This going any place?

Dan J. Fiore's picture
Dan J. Fiore from Pittsburgh is reading too many things at once November 3, 2014 - 11:33am

Nathan mentioned this in today's community spotlight. I'm not sure exactly how much interest there is at this point, but if you think it's a good idea this is the place to voice your opinion. Also, if you have ideas about how a process like this might work, let's hear 'em.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this November 4, 2014 - 3:38pm

Hey everyone--we've been kicking this back and forth, but ultimately it's not something we're going to pursue. 

We've explored similar ideas in the past, but it really breaks down to something that's going to take a lot of time and money to build, that we feel not a lot of people are going to utilize. 

If a few hundred people were going to use it on a consistent basis, maybe, sure. 

The reality is it'll probably be a few dozen people, if that. 

I think Chacron was right, up above, where he said this is a good meeting place for writers to do swaps. You can all make friends and trade stuff, here or privately.

For us to host the swaps--that's adding a lot of extra steps. 

Matt A.'s picture
Matt A. November 5, 2014 - 5:03am

To echo Rob, I know that LR is where I met the 2-3 people beta reading parts of my novel. It takes a bit of time to find someone like-minded who maybe writes in a similar style or genre to match yourself up with. In my case, the relationships began in LR classes or through discussion posts of people asking for beta readers.

Dan J. Fiore's picture
Dan J. Fiore from Pittsburgh is reading too many things at once November 5, 2014 - 8:18am

Makes sense. Thanks for considering, and thanks to everyone who offered their ideas/opinions!