Randall Flood: Bring on The Magic0 words written so far (about 0% complete)
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WHY YOU NEED BETA READERS: PART ONE

Posted on April 12, 2013

I am working through the wonderful suggestions made by my beta readers and it's clear they make any book so much stronger. Here's a sampling of some of the fixes and suggestions. 90% of the time, I go along with my beta readers.

1. One reader wanted to know how large Lil was. Since she was a fairy, the reader assumed Lil would be tiny. Good point. I added a reference to fairies having been enlarged by a spell to address a concern about Lil's size. She's a fairy, but is normal-sized.

2. I described how Sir Franklin sprinted with his roots to give it more treeish authenticity.

3. One reader found it off-putting that Ned was attracted to some degree to all the princesses, that the attraction then diminished his true feelings for the one who had stolen his heart. Right now, I like that. If a teen boy lived on a princess reservation, and all the young women around him were fetching to say the least, I could easily see him being pulled many different directions. Add to this his memory loss over who he has feelings about and it makes it even more reasonable.

4. Sweep clean the phrasing of Ned saw, thought, felt... This is an excellent suggestion. I'm being redundant with POV when I do this. I will make a final sweep and look for all the instances of this that can be trimmed.

5. One reader felt a line from Stacia made her sound older than the other princesses. While I never nailed down any of their ages, it makes sense that Stacia may be older in years or in social suaveness.

6. Occasionally, phrasing is pointed out that the reader isn't familiar with. I then have to decide if a clearer descriptive phrase is called for or chance the riskier word choice. In the case of dust up, I decided to keep it. In checking on it, I found it's actually one word. Dustup is a phrase meaning an altercation.

7. Another phrase was giving somebody a stink eye, which is giving a nasty look. I always liked this phrase so I kept it in.

8. Below is the original sentence:
Racing down the stairs, his anger had grown.
A slick reader pointed out that it sounded like the anger was racing down the stairs. Here's the fix:
He raced down the stairs, his anger growing with each step.

9. The comments aren't all corrections. Many times readers point out a witty passage, a clever phrasing, or some other pleasant aspect of your writing and then heap on the praise. It made me feel good to hear that a reader felt I had a knack for inventive vegetation names. Good to know someone out there appreciates the charms of branding a plant a brucklenut tree.

10. Ned should vault instead of somersault given that he just emerged from a coma. This suggestion is so glaringly good. Of course, you must walk before you run, he-who-was-formerly-among-the-comatose.

11. I can't believe I did this. I measured a conversation in the number of sentences when moments is a simpler demarcation of time. I was trying to hard there.

12. He/she not conversational. Using a slash in dialogue is, while not frowned upon, will certainly raise a few eyebrows.

13. Made a creature a sneadle as opposed to a treadle because a treadle is a lever on a sewing machine. Must do better with fictitious animal species.

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Comment by DIARMUID MACOISíN on SATURDAY, APRIL 13, 2013...
Good post. It's always interesting to see what can go over one's head when you're so involved with the text; you become so close to what you're writing that you begin to ignore your own mistakes. Beta readers are vital!
Comment by BRIAN CLOPPER on WEDNESDAY, APRIL 17, 2013...
It's true. And in the flurry of typing to get down the rapid-fire ideas, those mistakes slip through and then get noticed by able-eyed readers.

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