mood: it’s MARCH already????
pandora/ipod: “laid” by james
Holy crap, it’s March? When the hell did that happen?
Apologies for taking so long to get to this next installment in my “How-To Write a Novel” series. I had good reason, however. I have been nose down trying to bang BANISH into decent condition so I could get it out to my readers. My beta readers. See where I’m going with this?
CHAPTER FIVE: BETA READERS
When I finished my first novel, I knew I needed to have someone read it before I…did anything else with it. I sent it to a few trusty friends – all readers, all smart, educated people, all really good friends. They all LOVED it.
Too bad the novel was a freaking mess.
Not that I blame them. They didn’t know. They read with a reader’s eye and a friend’s eye and as such they latched onto the good, glazed over the bad and all in all, enjoyed it. It’s kind of like when your mom tells you that you were the best kid in the talent show, even though you tripped over yourself during your dance routine and went flailing into the orchestra pit. Mom only saw her Baby on stage; she completely blocked out the flailing.
Thankfully, by the time I finished my second novel, I had been active on a writers’ forum: Absolute Write, to be exact. I’d made some virtual friendships with other writers and when THE WITCH’S EYE was ready, I asked a few of them to beta for me. I credit their feedback not only with making that novel better, but for helping me land an agent. THE WITCH’S EYE in its pre-beta form probably would have come close, but no cigar.
Don’t get be wrong. Beta critiques are hit or miss. You’ll get opposite feedback, crazy suggestions, people who hate your character, hate your genre, just want to tell you that you suck. Trust me, it happens. You’ll also get insightful feedback on your characters, your plot, your themes, your voice. Sometimes it’s harsh (in a good way), sometimes it’s harsh (in a WTF? way). But I’ll take the good with the bad because in the long run, beta readers make you think about things that had never crossed your mind, and any process that makes you look at your manuscript in a new and unusual way, can’t be all bad.
I was lucky. Jen Hayley, Bryn Greenwood and Tracey Martin were exactly the kind of readers you WANT – honest, thoughtful, conscientious. I’m a better writer today because of them and all the readers who’ve been kind enough to critique my work over the last two years. You know who you are. And you all rock.
So, you’ve had your idea, you’ve done your research, you’ve written, edited and given your novel up for critique. There’s only one step left people: Chapter Six – The Query.