I never used to know (maybe still don't!) when to show drafts to other people. I tend to go through a lot of drafts. As I rewrite, I kind of figure out what I really want to say -- the scenes that aren't important get cut, others get trimmed: sort of like boiling down lots of water and things to make a good soup -- skimming the fat off, reducing the rest to intensify the flavor. There is a certain practicality in showing drafts early -- that way, if they're not marketable, you don't waste your time. But if I show a draft too early, I am too influenced by others. Plus, by the time I DO know what I"m saying, everyone is sick of reading the story!
So, probably for me, the time to show things is when I've taken them as far as I can, when I know what I want to say and have said it as well as I can. At that point, it's vital to know if other people can understand it or not! All comments at that point are helpful. My best friend and I used to just tell each other where we were:
"I'm vulnerable about this, just tell me what you like" (early drafts).
"TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU SEE" (draft almost ready to face the world)
New ideas are like raw eggs -- drop one and it's smashed. But if you drop a boiled egg, nothing much happens, the shell cracks a little, big deal. Though that's not a good analogy because at the end, when I show things, I realize what people aren't getting or what reads oddly and fix it. Can't do that with an egg.
This all came up when I was writing my new novel and rewriting something old to send out in the same week. What about you? When do you show things?
Words in outline: 1638
Words in draft: 3271
(NOTE ON COUNT: I'm doing some rewriting as I go along -- I don't want to end up with a huge mess full of tangents and unusable chapters and even characters like I did last time)