Monday, July 16, 2018

Some Things I Learned From a Beta Reader

Beta reader: beta reader is a test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing (similar to beta testing in software), giving feedback with the angle of an average reader to the author about remaining issues.

If you're a lucky writer, you have a handful of these. You are blessed if their feedback is honest, insightful, and motivating. I've been struggling with my novel, Dreaming of You and Me, a novel I actually finished almost six months ago. The main problem as I see it as I look back, is I wrote this novel really fast--the first draft I completed in a month. 

There are definite advantages to writing a novel quickly.
1. Probably the most important, fast writing is more conducive to being "in the flow." Don't know what I mean? According to Wikipedia, 
Concentrating on a task is one aspect of flow.
In positive psychologyflow, also known colloquially as being in the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time. I also have other blog posts on it flow-versus-trance

2. When you're writing quickly (and daily) you don't have to go back and reread (as much). It's easier to keep track of where your characters are, what they're thinking, and where your story is heading.

But, and this is huge, when I'm writing quickly, I tend not to fall in love with my characters the same way as I do when I'm spending months in their company. This was my problem with Nora and Cole, and I couldn't put my finger on it. Thankfully, I had an insightful and honest beta reader point out where I had tripped up.
Cole: His character arc is never really spelled out. He needs to vocalize why he wants a wife and a family and why he believes Nora is the answer.
Nora: Nora needs to recognize that because of the abandonments she's suffered, she's really not in a healthy state of mind--no one would be--and starting a relationship from where she's at would be a recipe for disaster. This requires a scene of some heart-to-heart dialogue. 
What I love about Indie publishing is also what I hate about it. I love the autonomy and the freedom to write what I want, when I want. But I also wish I had a team of editors who were (almost) as invested in my work as myself. (I say almost, because I doubt anyone else could be.) But I do think it would be great to work with a publishing team who had, as my friend Warren Buffet would say, "some skin in the game."
My new goal is to make enough with my writing that I can hire my own dream team. And that means I need to be working on books rather than my blog...

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