Tag Archives: revise

#MondayBlogs How To Find Beta Readers

12 Dec

Beta reader (n): an avid reader/critique partner/superhero who looks over your novel/baby/everything before anyone else sees it in order to improve language/characters/grammar/basically the whole package.

Okay, but really, beta readers are necessary, because they are an extra set of knowledgeable eyes on your work. They’ll see those plot holes you understand (but accidentally forgot to add) and they’ll call out your purple prose or tell you what’s working where. Most writers know they need a beta reader, but finding a beta reader? That’s a whole different story.

Beta readers probably shouldn’t be your best friend from high school, but hey, look at it this way, they might become your best friend overtime. In fact, it’d be ideal to get quite a few beta readers on your team. That way, they can serve various purposes on top of general advice. Example? I recently rewrote the beginning of one of my novels, but all of my beta readers had gone over the original already. I needed a fresh pair of eyes. One that hadn’t seen the original. That way, I could know if the beginning was just as clear as the original version. If I had a beta reader who already knew the story, it wouldn’t have been an objective opinion.

beta readers

So, who should be your beta reader? Like I said above, they *probably* shouldn’t be your best friend or sister or parents or a lover or or or. Why? Because people close to us generally tell us what we want to hear. Plus, just because they are close to us, doesn’t mean they are writers, and even if they are avid readers, it doesn’t mean they are experienced in your genre or the market. Beta readers are generally best when they are fellow writers working within the same genre at the same level of experience (or even better, more experience). Of course that doesn’t mean there are exceptions. If your mother is a college professor who teaches young adult literature and you’re writing young adult books, duh, go for it. (Maybe ask her for some contacts, too, you lucky bird.) Also, toward the end of writing, I like to have a few non-writer friends of mine read my work. It’s still a fresh pair of eyes, so friends and family don’t hurt. Just don’t rely on only them.

You might be thinking beta readers sound like mythical unicorns by now, but trust me, they are out there, and they are definitely willing to help. Remember my little example above about needing a new beta reader last minute? Guess what? I found her on Twitter, and she’s awesome. Now how can you find beta readers?

  1. Local Writing Groups/Events: Look up your local chapters of RWA or whatever organization your books fall into. See if anyone is close. Check out your local libraries or bookstores to see if they have writing groups. Join. Pay attention to local events, too. Writing conferences often have writing classes available throughout them, and it can be a place for feedback as well as connections. But for those of you who have social anxiety like me (or work a nightshift like me), I have online solutions for you.
  2. Online: Remember all those agent-pitching contests I’ve shared before? No? Here’s the Pitch Calendar. Join those online and meet fellow writers. Follow writers who are writing similar materials and befriend each other. Overtime, you might find someone who needs a beta reader just as much as you do, and you’re both headed the same direction. That being said, I have one stipulation for online connections: research, research, research. There’s no need to pay thousands of dollars for just a beta reader. Also, as much as I love Wattpad for finding other writers, do not post manuscripts you’re trying to publish. Posting can be considered published, and that will make it harder to find an agent or publisher. Instead, I suggest posting short stories or a sample chapter to try to connect with others in order to find beta readers to work with elsewhere.
  3. Colleges: If you’re in college, colleges often have awesome resources for students. Take advantage of those.

These are three places to start. Good luck in finding your next best friend…er…beta reader.

~SAT

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How to Manage Your NaNoWriMo Editing? Tips for Novel Writers

12 Nov

Announcements:

Today is a guest post for all those who want tips with editing after NaNoWriMo comes to an end, but he wrote an introduction, so without further ado:

How to Manage Your NaNoWriMo Editing? Tips for Novel Writers

Written by Steve Aedy, ghost author and writer for Fresh Essays – team of professionals who provide writing help and editing aid. Steve is an avid reader and wants to try himself in fiction writing. Follow him on Google+.

Well, congratulations, you’ve made through the 30 day NaNoWriMo Challenge! And you’ve survived. However, now you face the somewhat daunting task of editing those 50,000 words.

Can you feel your internal heels digging in at the thought? After all, you know what you wrote. And you recall vividly the gibberish that was typed at the end of those all-nighters, just to hit the day’s word count.

If editing your NaNoWriMo novel seems like an insurmountable task, fear not. Because we’re about to share some advice from the authorities on how to get through the equally challenging task of editing your novel. And, coming out sane on the other end!

If you managed to complete all 50,000 words of the Challenge, then you already know something about how to tackle editing your work. Whatever techniques you used for planning, organization and hitting daily targets in writing your novel will work for editing as well. So, you can simply reverse engineer the process and apply the same steps.

However, if you’re not clear about how to handle editing your opus, follow along the steps described below.

Editing

Start at the Start

Perhaps the biggest challenge in even getting started with editing is the seeming enormity of the project. If this is your first time at self-editing, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed as though you’re being swallowed in words. As with writing, this is where using a deadline can play an important part.

Without a deadline an editing project seems never-ending, numbing the mind into inaction. With no end in sight, it may be difficult to generate the enthusiasm needed for editing and a deadline will provide the incentive to complete this next, important step. Motivation comes from the daily achievement of your editing tasks and builds momentum as you go along.

The NaNoWriMo forum Now What? takes place during the months of January and February, with a break over December. If you participate, you’ll enjoy all the benefits and support of the other writers, as well as expert advice and ongoing interaction with agents, editors and publishing staff. And of course, the “buddy system” inherent in a forum is a great tool for staying accountable.

The Steps to Editorial Achievement

Take the time to plan the steps you need to meet your editorial deadline. Schedule your time accordingly and decide on the software or editing tools you may want to use. Check out the editing apps and software recommended on Lifehacker for some ideas.

Start with the outline. Hopefully you’ve followed your outline somewhat in the writing stage. Continuing to do so during editing will help to keep your ideas moving, you’ll be able to spot opportunities to introduce foreshadowing and your pacing and rhythm will be smoother.

Do a little warm up by reviewing character studies and research notes, or reading yesterday’s work. This is like priming the pump and pulls your focus and attention into alignment with the day’s editing goals.

Edit daily. The best tactic for staying on top of your editing is to do some of it every day. As part of your plan, have a daily word count or page count that you’re committed to reaching. Celebrate when you do hit your goal, and adjust for improvement when you don’t. It’s only a yardstick, but effective in clocking progress which will keep motivation topped up.

Print a copy for editorial notes. After your initial proofreading, print a copy and write out your editorial notes on the pages. Revise with these initial improvements to prepare for a critical read through by beta readers.

Have your work critiqued with beta readers. The NaNoWriMo forum is excellent for this purpose. And you can always enlist the help of friends, if they can be impartial and give an honest opinion.

Edit and revise again. After your work has gone through the initial beta reading, edit and revise again based on the feedback received.

Proofread, print a fresh copy and edit once again.

Repeat as necessary until you’re satisfied.

Or, if you’re not interested in self-editing or simply don’t have the time, you can always hire the professional services of an editor. You can find some good recommendations and resources for finding editors in this piece at thecreativepenn.com. Hiring an experienced editor has many benefits, a few of which are:

  • A professional editor will be experienced with an objective eye.
  • Editors have insider tips and tricks to smooth out your draft.
  • They’ll have an eye for specifics within your genre, which an inexperienced self-editor may miss.
  • They’ll review your plot and structure with a view to making your novel more publishable.

And to help in the actual process of editing, some tips from the pros:

  • Always run a spell check to catch the basic errors in spelling and grammar.
  • The initial proofread is also the time to watch for mistakes with homonyms: to, too, two etc.
  • The readthrough is a good time to correct any inconsistencies in tense. Double check your dialogue to ensure it remains aligned with the correct tense.
  • With your editors’ specs on, watch for repetition of words and ideas. Try using your word processors “find and replace” tab in the editing toolbar to help catch redundancies.
  • Remove and replace the “to be” verbs with an active voice to give strength to your writing. Remember to show, not tell.
  • Editing is a good time to rediscover your voice, and to ensure it’s well represented in your work. After all, it’s your novel, and should be written in your voice, not someone else’s.
  • Find your rhythm by reading aloud. Reading out loud will help to find the cadence of your words. Make adjustments to maintain consistency when irregularities in tempo occur.
  • Spot check by selecting random chapters to edit. Taken out of context, random reading helps to see your work more objectively and makes it easier to spot errors.

And there you have the basic steps on how to manage the editing of your NaNoWriMo novel. Like the writing Challenge itself, take it one day at a time, keep your sights on the end goal and before you know it, you’ll be celebrating another major achievement on your path to writing success.

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