Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “Beta reader

What’s In An Editor? Part 2. (How Do You Feel?)

Pre-Final edits are in full swing, so forgive my sporadic blog posts of late. The writing pendulum is searching for the mid-point.

Turns out real editing with changes and revisions takes a while. Add in a deadline and … yeah, it’s a time stretch. With that in mind, I’m continuing my What’s In An Editor post series (a spin-off of What’s In A Beta Reader). And since I’m new to the editing game, it will be a work in progress. Here we go:

I keep asking myself, “How would you feel?” Or, “What does that look like?”

Feelings are hard to write. For me. Well, I should reword. Feelings are hard to show in my writing. It’s a point of head banging lately. Rewriting sections to show instead of tell. Showing say … scrutiny, for example, causes my head to ache. How would I show scrutiny? It’s a good question. One that I’m working on.

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi is an invaluable tool. One that I use from time to time (more often lately). It doesn’t, however, give a writer all the answers. It simply leads them a bit farther down the ‘expressive’ path. After that, showing is still in the mind of the writer. Showing without repetition … harder still.

I’ll move back to my example. The sentence I needed to alter per my editor was this one: I scrutinized both of them. 

So, how do I show scrutiny?

Here’s the definition: A critical observation or examination.

I could have my character shake his/her head, but I do a lot of head shaking (it’s an easy and probably overdone fix).  I could have a disbelieving eye roll (also a bit overdone even though I like eye rolling). How about narrowing eyes? That works. When we are skeptical of someone’s behavior we narrow our eyes in disbelief.

Still, it’s a crap shoot. Seeing eye to eye on every little detail is unlikely when it comes to editing, but your words should feel right. Put yourself in your characters shoes and ask yourself, “How do I feel?”

Nobody said editing would be easy.

WRITE ON, WRITERS!

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What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 3

Expressions.

“So jump,” he sneered up at me.

Apparently one of my characters sneers a lot. Who knew? My beta pointed out that unless I meant for him to be laughing at the MC with contempt, maybe I should reword it.

SNEER: To smile or laugh with facial contortions that express scorn or contempt. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Ouch… Um, no, that was not my intent. At all.

Sometimes, it’s better to stick with said.

*related posts: ** What’s In A Beta Reader?

**What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 2


What’s in a Beta Reader? Part 2

My eye

My eye (Photo credit: neuroticcamel)

“I rolled my eyes around the room, searching for her.”

My beta red-flagged this sentence, and made her remarks in the margins.

“Unless your MC is physically removing her eyes from their sockets, she can’t roll them around the room. Or is that what you mean? Can she?”

Um, no.

No, she cannot physically remove her eyeballs, and roll them around the room. I had to laugh, and then rewrite the sentence. These are the tiny errors that we as writers, all caught up in our story, usually miss.

I write fantasy, so the MC removing her eyeballs from their sockets wouldn’t be too far-fetched. But, no, she can’t. Nor is that what I meant to say.

I meant to say that she gazed around the room. Looked around the room. Eyed the room.

Our betas are useful for finding a wide array of issues. This was one of my funnier ones. They aren’t always funny. But that is something to keep in mind when reading comments from a beta (or proofreader, or editor). Humor. Don’t hold so tightly to your story that you become blinded by what others tell you is wrong. They are supposed to find problems. And we are supposed to fix them.

Have you tried to roll your eyes across the room lately?

WRITE ON!

*Related Posts: What’s In A Beta Reader?


What’s in a Beta Reader?

Everything.

Writing

It took about four months before I mustered up the courage to let anyone read the first chapters of my current novel. That was back in August of 2010. I’d been writing since April of that year, and my book was nowhere–and I mean nowhere–near ready for viewing. Even if that viewer was my mom. Now, I realize that everyone says they let their mom read their book first because, of course, our mothers will go easy on us if it sucks. Not my mom. I’m not saying she flat-out told me it was awful, but she didn’t tell me what I was hoping to hear either.

I wanted my mom to read it first because I needed real feedback from an avid reader. My mom also happens to do a lot of editing. The first reviews weren’t good. Looking back, she was 100% correct. The book was a fledgling written by a poet and short story dabbler, not a seasoned novelist.

I tucked my tail between my legs, swallowed my pride, and listened to everything she had to say. And then I used it all. I studied and researched and let the ideas in my head germinate and flow.  I wrote and I wrote until I was sick of it. Until I almost gave up.

It has been a year and a half since that time and my novel has gone through at least eight drafts. Easily. After I’d tweaked, edited, hated it, and loved it, I put it back in my moms possession. And cringed a little.

I have three beta readers now, all doing slightly different things, all slightly different viewpoints, coming from different genre preferences and widely different age groups. I think the wide scope is necessary for a real perspective. I was terrified to let my words, my characters–my world, go. Everything in those pages is me. Everything in all our books as writers, is us. Our imagination, our thoughts—our creation. What if my betas hated my story? What would that say about me? I let it go, despite my trepidation, and faced the fear.

If they did hate the story, if my characters were whack and my voice was worse–I kind of needed to know.

What’s in a Beta Reader? If you’re lucky, a trusted reader who will give it to you straight.

I waited a long time after the initial beta read back in 2010 to release my chapters again. I was afraid to hear the critiques–to hear I wasn’t any good after close to two years of sweat and tears. But how would I ever know, if I was too afraid to let go? And if I was awful at writing novels, well…there was only one way to change that— keep writing, keep learning, and keep putting myself out there.

What’s in a Beta Reader? Your audience. Who without, you have no readership. So ask yourself, who are you writing for? I can say with all my heart, I write for myself. But when you decide to go live, and publish your work, that changes a bit. I write because I love it. And somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to do more than write stories to myself. So, I would be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn’t also writing for my readers. And they, as well as I, deserve the best book I can put out. That’s where the Betas come in 😉

WRITE ON!