Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Write and Learn. And I Need a Beta!

I slog along, having a marvelous time I admit, tip-tapping on the keyboard, whipping the WIPs into shape.

Or am I?

What a wonderful job I'm doing. The prose is just dripping from my...um...keyboard (ahem). Or is it?

The answer to both questions is: No.

This should be my mantra: Never rely on my self-congratulatory thoughts, get someone else to read my work before I reach any conclusions of brilliance. And that person should not be a member of my family or friends.

Here're some glaring problems I seem to have embedded in my mind which my eyes are blind to when it comes to editing:

1. Stop dithering around at the start with a hunk of description: the sky was blue, the birds were singing - that kind of thing. Get into the action for #### sake!

2. Too many adjectives make the sentences unwieldy - have I tried reading them aloud?

3. Stop trying to hammer home a point, the reader got it first time round. Right?

4. The scenes are too long: a bit of memory here, a little back-tracking there, back into the present, a bit more memory. (Sigh)

5. Why's it taking so long to actually get to the nitty-gritty of the story? Why are you leaving invaluable information so that the reader has no idea what's happening until page 3 or 4?

Oh dear oh dear. That's right folks. I'm guilty of all these points EVERY TIME I start a new WIP. Now the psychologists out there may have their reasons for this repetitive annoyance, but I have my own. When I start out on a new WIP, I'm nervous for a number of reasons:

  •  There's a lot of story to get down, but will there be enough to make a full novel or even a novella? I'd better fatten out this first bit, just to add in a few words. 
  • I don't want to get bogged down in "tell" so I'd better "show" what my MC is doing (which is why he's smelling flowers to show what a nice guy he is and what a lovely day it is tra-la-la).
  • There's got to be conflict and an obstacle, but I want to save some for the rest of the story, just in case I can't think of any later. So I'll just put in a hint or two now and save the big-boys for later.
  • I really, really want my reader to know what's going on.
I'm sure you all have your own problems at the start of a WIP. I'd love to hear what they are and how you cope with them.

Now you've heard what a sad shape I'm in, is there anyone who is used to me and my rambling on this blog who'd be interested in being a BETA reader for me (in exchange, of course!)?  If you are, please let me know either here or you can find my contact in the "Contact" tag above.  :)


  1. I just want to say I am guilty of all these things as well. I am writing fiction for the first time and have decided at this point I'm just trying to get the damn story out of me and onto paper and screw writing techniques. I'll go back and add those later. I wouldn't be a very good beta reader, or I'd volunteer. Good luck, Susan.

  2. Hope you get lots of offers! I have three awesome critique partners and they've really made a difference. World building is my challenge. And overuse of certain words. Crap.

  3. Thank you for your honest thoughts and ideas. I appreciate it. I think you're right, its best to get it out without judging it too much one way or the other, and then get an uninvolved reader to give an outside perspective.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  4. Thanks Karen and Sarah for your lovely comments :)
    Alex - it was all your idea to look for a BETA.

  5. Well at least you've figured out what the problems are that's good. My writing habits have changed over the years, so now when I start something it takes me ages to get on with writing more than a couple of chapters. Right now I was working on a book for which I wrote 3 chapters, months later I wrote another 3 and it's a year later and I haven't written another three. Would help on the Beta reading if I could, but I have critique partners who will soon be getting out the tar and feathers.

  6. Well I can sure relate! My biggest problem is the dreaded writing in first person. FInding a way to toss the extra I and me is torture and takes way to much time, but I can't seem to get past it and spend way to much time editing before I should...LOL! Whatever made me have to be a writer anyways? Sometimes I think that the love of self inflicted pain must be a disease that I inherited.

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