To Tell or Not? Silence is Golden?

When you’re writing do you tell people what your working on or not?

Darcy, the Storyteller!
When I teach narrative writing, I often ask students to do prewriting activities that involve oral storytelling. Students tell about something that has actually happened to them.

It’s helpful to do this because you can orally narrow down a topic, rehearse details, ask for more details, and even do oral revisions before they ever put pencil to paper. I like this as a prewriting strategy for student writers.

But then, I thought about my own writing. Do I tell others about what I’m writing? Do I rehearse the story orally, decide to add/subtract details, look for weak areas and shore them up with an oral revision? No!

Why not? I don’t know. Certainly, I tell real events over and over and hone the details, presentation, delivery of the punch line. But fiction? Somehow, it’s different? I don’t like telling the story before hand?

Would I benefit from doing that? Maybe. I’m working on a science fiction story and realize the scientific basis of a couple things must be meticulous. So, I am discussing those things, trying to get it straight what might and might not happen, not using pure invention here. But that’s nonfiction stuff again.

The question is this: for your fiction, do you tell people what you’re working on? Why or why not?

7 responses to “To Tell or Not? Silence is Golden?”

  1. I do talk about what I’m working on, but usually in such a way that people I hope will be early readers will not have the book spoilt for them.

    There again, I started actually finishing novels with NaNoWriMo, and there is a strong tradition of discussing your work at kick off events.

  2. Dunx:
    I didn’t know that NaNoWriMo encourages talking about your work at kick-off. Interesting.

    Nice idea, too, not to give a spoiler when talking.
    And I try not to “explain” too much to those I know will be early readers because they need to come to it cold just like any other reader.


  3. Indigo:
    Yes, for writers who don’t plot ahead, but instead follow a character around, surprise would be key. How COULD you talk about it ahead of time?


  4. Now I’ve heard a LOT of authors say that telling the story beforehand is bad for your writing, but I have found that sharing my ideas improves the quality of my writing, and helps me iron-out story kinks. Oftentimes, while trying to explain a scene to someone, I find that it either has no purpose in the story or that the mechanics of my world aren’t quite right in that area of the story.
    I find telling my story to others to be a great way to spot potential messes and therefore reorganize things in my brain!

  5. I smile mysteriously and give a vague answer. Until I’ve got my story very well worked out, I don’t want a negative or bewildered response to make me question myself. I also don’t want to have to explain the whole story. If people persist, I say, “You can read it when it’s published.” :)