Monday, February 5, 2007

Every Writer Needs At Least Two Pairs Of Eyes, Or More If We Can Obtain Them!!

When I began writing several years ago, I never thought of having a group of people read my work before I sent it off into the world, but I soon realized that writers need to have beta readers--those special people who read all of your work and provide invaluable feedback to help improve said work. Even when we think we've "polished" our brainchildren, there could be a need for someone to read that "polished" version.

Case in point: I wrote the first draft of my urban fantasy novel some time ago. Then I re-wrote some things and polished it, but realized that it was a little too short--my approximate word count was 62,500 words. Well, for fantasy, it needed to be at least 80,000, so I decided to go back and add a sub plot. (I'll do another post regarding word count in the near future!)Everything turned out grand.

My main beta reader read this "final" version of my manuscript the other day, and pointed something out to me that I hadn't noticed. I mentioned that one of my character's was deceased in one chapter, but in the very next chapter, he was eating dinner with someone. Needless to say, I could explain this (ahem). I told my beta reader that maybe he was very, VERY, hungry, and that he came back for dinner?? In any case, of course that had to be changed immediately. I was ecstatic that this was pointed out to me before I sent my baby out into the world. Boy, wouldn't that have been embarrassing? No one is above having beta-readers! Even Stephen King has them!

I remember reading a particular incident concerning Mr. King and one of his readers--I think it was a college professor of his. (It could have been in his book, On Writing) Anyway, his college professor/beta reader, laughed at a particular section of his book where Stephen mentioned that the local townspeople gathered every year to shoot the peasants for food. Did you catch that? Stephen meant to say the townspeople shot pheasants, NOT peasants. That one word made the difference between regular eating habits and cannibalism! Beta readers are good to have! Write On!

10 comments:

ORION said...

Hey Horror Writer! thanks for stopping by my blog and your post today is dear to my heart! I have had to make some choices with how I spend my cyber-time so AW gets short shrift.
My beta's are invaluable for just the thing you mention. I also use them for wtfs. You know. Those passages that make you weep tears of joy to be a writer and the poor reader ends up without a clue.
Oh and about a dead character. That actually happened to a published author friend of mine. Chapters got switched and it wasn't caught in copy editing.
Too funny.

Demon Hunter said...

Hey Pat,
Thanks for visiting my blog! Feel free to come back and comment anytime. Do you mind if I add you to my links list?

My betas are my first line of defense; they REALLY save my life. I appreciate them and I tell them that often! :*)

Gwyneth Bolton said...

This is very important, Tyhitia and why I love my critique group and shout them out every chance I get. They really are the first line of defense! And I know you are so glad your beta reader caught the dead guy eating dinner. LOL.

ORION said...

Yeah! Add me! I love links.
I love that -- first line of defense.

Demon Hunter said...

Pat, I'll add you right now. Feel free to add me to yours as well.
~Tyhitia

Demon Hunter said...

Gwen,
I'm really glad too. I know I write scary stuff but that is a little too weird. LOL!

SAK said...

I use beta readers. Unfortunately for me all of my beta readers live nowhere in the vicinity of where I live. So I have to email it to them and wait for them to get back to me when they get a free moment.

Sandra

Demon Hunter said...

Sandra,
It is frustrating having to wait on your beta readers, but they do have lives too. I have to constantly remind myself of that. Although I had a few that got back to me within a few days. They really liked the manuscript!

Faith said...

I have On Writing. It's one of King's better non-fiction books.

Demon Hunter said...

Faith,
I completely agree! Many people don't realize the wealth of knowledge contained in that book. Some of it is quite subtle. Welcome to my blog! Come back anytime!
~Tyhitia