I’m obviously a day behind with my blogging schedule, but I simply can’t skip this week’s “Whimsical Wednesday.” This is usually the day that I muse about my non-food/travel/movie interests, so I thought I’d chat briefly about beta-reading – a newly adopted interest in recent months.
Over the summer and after much soul-searching, I realized that my first novel, Hollow Souls, was far from ready to be seen by agents, editors, and other publishing professionals. Although my husband was confident that I could revamp the book on my own, I felt that it was necessary to have a few fellow writers look at it first. Not only does that seem to be standard operating procedure for writers these days, but I had also reached a point where I could no longer see my story clearly. In other words, I knew it needed to change, but I didn’t know how to change it – and I thought other writers might be able to see what I no longer could.
Thus, I embarked on the beta-reading process, and so far, five amazing people – Weronika, Bridget, Kristi, Elaine, and Chazley – have read my novel. While their comments have made it clear that I have a long road ahead, I’ll be forever grateful to each of them for their perspective and insight.
My only regret in this is that I have yet to return the favor to all but one (Bridget), and I feel incredibly guilty about it. To be fair, two of my betas – Weronika and Kristi – aren’t ready for me yet, but I definitely owe the other two a critique, not to mention others (like Bane and Mary Jo) whose work I’ve promised to read. I’m not, as a rule, such a slow reader – nor are these extremely varied manuscripts a chore to read (‘cause they’re not!) – I just never expected to have so much to do this fall. Between moving from Michigan, maintaining four blogs, hosting a film festival in New Orleans, and working on my latest travel-writing gig, I’ve literally been “meeting myself coming and going,” as Maw-Maw Deanne would say (yes, that’s right, we call our grandfolks “maw-maws” and “paw-paws” down here).
But I plan to spend the next week attempting to finish my beta-reading duties, and I’m really excited about it. For one thing, it’ll delay my own revision a bit longer, and for another thing, while I know that I’ll learn a lot from my beta readers’ suggestions, I find that I’m learning even more from reading their stories, which range from literary fiction to middle-grade fantasy. Though I have no doubt that they’re all miffed with me for taking so long, I hope they know that it’s my busy life that’s gotten in the way – not their talents – and that I’m really enjoying (and grateful for) this peek into their worlds. I’ve learned so much already – about plot, dialogue, showing versus telling, etc. – and I only hope that my own insights will be worth the wait.
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