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When is the best time to ask for a review?
On Request-Reviewing

Here at WDC (Writing Dot Com), we take our literature very seriously. Each manuscript is an extension of the author—like a friend, or a child. Hours, days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years go into the construction of a project.

Naturally we want to share these projects upon completion. Who wouldn’t? We spend [x] amount of our lives penning a story, a book, an article—the only thing left to do is see how worthwhile this spent time was.

So we ask for reviews.

But when is the best time to ask for a review?

There are good times and bad times to ask for one.

A while back, while struggling with a bout of Writer’s Block, I wrote a piece of flash fiction for my writing blog (http://trevorprescott.blogspot.com/) called

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Friends Forever is THE first draft. It is completely unedited.

Later that week, I edited Friends Forever and changed everything—including the title! Friends Forever became

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Now, here we have a prime example of when to review and when not to. Friends Forever, being completely untreated, is riddled with grammatical errors, awkward sentences, the passive voice, and just about every literary no-no in the book.

Wouldn’t it make sense to have someone look it over and help out with the error-hunt?

That’s the last thing we want to do.

Having someone else look at the first draft is unwise, for several reasons:

*Check* The reviewer will find a whole slew of things wrong with the manuscript that we could have found on our own (typos, repeated words, etc)

*Check* The story probably isn’t complete. Take the difference between Friends Forever and Violet. An entire new layer of depth is added between the first draft and the second. Who’s to say that the first draft is even the final story? The first draft is like the skeleton of the work—but sometimes, there are missing bones that have to be added before the first draft can even be considered complete.

*Check* Reviewers usually only give one review. I say ‘usually’ because there’s likely exceptions, but for the most part, someone is only going to look at the piece once.

So get to the point – when is the best time to request a review?

*CheckR* The First Draft isn’t a great time to do it; it’s filled with obvious errors and may not even be finished anyway.

*CheckG* The Second Draft: grammatical/typographical errors are fixed. Having spent so much time looking at the story, there are almost guaranteed to be some things that we've missed, despite our best efforts.

*CheckR* The Final Draft: There comes a point in every story’s life where the author simply sets down the pen and says “This is the way my story is supposed to be.” This is known as the Final Draft, when you can look at your work and it’s precisely what you had in mind from the start.

The best time to ask for a review is during the second draft.

Think of the life of a child. The first draft is infancy—learning to walk, to eat, to speak. In no way is it prepared for the trials and tribulations that this world has prepared for it. The child’s development revolves solely around the parents.

The second draft, however, is the child’s years at school. Though the parents still have control over the child, there are a variety of other influences: teachers, friends, bullies, cute girls-next-door. While these influences may sometimes be negative, they are still a part of the child’s growth.

The final draft is the post-High School years, when the child is now an adult, fully grown and out from under the control of the parent. This is the published draft, available to the whole wide world, and out of the author’s hands.

The second draft—the childhood—is when we've crafted the work into something that can handle criticism. We wouldn’t tell an infant to sit in the corner on timeout for falling down the first time it tried to walk, would we? Likewise, does it make sense trying to control the life of a fully-grown man (which would be very much like holding onto a finished manuscript, editing constantly and never publishing)?

So, there is a time when requesting reviews is best—during that middle stage of growth when mistakes are corrected, when imperfection is at its peak (not to say that a completed work is truly perfect, we all have our flaws, but these imperfections are at a minimum).

Keep this in mind, when that adrenaline of typing THE END is still flowing and the cursor is hovering over the Request Reviews page. Ask yourself:

Is this story ready for the first day of Kindergarten?

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