I’m in a bouncy happy mood today. Last night I finished edits on a 23000 word novella and sent it off to a few beta readers. This is exciting because I’m stepping out of the short story market I’ve been concentrating on since March and am testing the waters for the Shattered Soul series. I wrote the story at the beginning of the year and let it sit with only a few tweaks until last week. Now, it’s in the hands of people who can pick things apart and show me any flaws I have in my writing.
For those who are new to the publishing world, a beta reader is very important. A beta reader is a writer’s first reader of stories, novels and a series. Often beta readers will look at the story, check for plot holes, logic jumps and other structural issues along with grammar, spelling and missed words. Many of which the writer cannot see for him/her self.
Most of us have heard of blind spots. If you didn’t already know, a blind spot is an area where you can’t see. All humans have one where the optic nerve and the retina meet. If you drive, you should be aware of any places your car mirrors don’t show or where the frame of the vehicle obstructs your view.
For a writer, blind spots exist because much of the world we write about is internalized in our ideas. What we think is obvious, sometimes isn’t to someone else. There fore, writers need beta readers to look at stories and point out things the writer literally cannot see. They also help the writer keep track of the different characters, items that appear and details that pop up. Another thing they watch out for is how the character reacts to situations. If things seem out of character for them, it might really dislodge a reader quite a bit.
To qualify for being a beta reader, well it depends on the author. Some require you to have some knowledge of the genre. Some prefer you to be a writer; others a reader. But being able to read, comment and sometimes argue your position are all great qualities. Just remember, you are only giving advice, what you might prefer might not fit the needs of the author.
Mostly beta readers have access to the first draft of the story but sometimes they get in on the polishing stage. Right now mine are reading draft 1 (the draft(0) that appears after the first edit). I’m eager to see their comments even if they didn’t like it. Hopefully I’ll be able to fix all of the holes, correct the typos and get this one sent out into the wild soon.