Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Writer's Gift

I don't know about you but for me writing is an isolated business. When I'm in full flow I tend to want to do nothing more than tip-tappety-tip at the keyboard and get everything down as quickly as possible. Go out for dinner? Pah! I'm busy... Go where? hmmmm? Can you just keep quiet for a moment, turn off the TV, turn down the music? Make you something to eat? Jeez. 
You probably get the idea.
But then I reach the point where I'm done. Inspiration has fled and I start looking around for company, to go out for dinner, to the cinema...because I need a rest from all that brilliance. But is it brilliance? 
Who am I going to ask? My family? Oh sure, they're going to say, "Lovely darling. How did you think of it?". Friends? Same response, but perhaps without the darling. 
"Yes," I insist. "But what about the pacing? Does it flow? How about the characters - are they real?"
"Weeeellll," they reply with a puzzled frown. "I did see an extra 'and' in one of the sentences..."
All well and good if you want lavish praise and 'there-she-goes-again' smiles.

So what's the solution? 
Find a good BETA reader.
But what makes a good BETA reader/crit partner? Here're my thoughts:

  • Someone who's already a writer.
  • Someone who identifies with your genre and you like theirs (because you're going to reciprocate - this isn't all one-sided, after all).
  • Someone who knows his/her grammar and all the writing jargon which includes judging the overall style, whether sentences flow seamlessly, and understands correct spelling/grammar.
  • Someone who's not afraid of being brutally honest (and this is a MUST - which means you mustn't be afraid of taking criticism and responding KINDLY to it).
  • Someone who knows and can identify if your characters speak realistically and that it's obvious who's speaking if no speech tags are used.
  • Someone who knows how plots work; whether the conflict is set up early enough; if the work drags. And is the reader interested in the outcome?
  • Someone who can pick up loose threads that haven't been resolved (and you'll be surprised what you can forget).
  • Someone who finds inconsistencies (boy, I'm not going there - I'm not telling you what I did). 
If you think that's a lot to take in, take heart. I have found a brilliant BETA/crit partner who can read my work with the precision of a professional editor and isn't afraid of being honest. She knows how to tactfully write her comments without offending. And she's FRIENDLY.

I may be lucky that I've hit the jackpot, or maybe it's because we writers are a caring bunch who are just interested in helping each other out.


  1. This sounds so! Great post.

  2. hear hear. Sadly my beta has become a professional editor and I don't like to intrude on her time--I need to find another one. I'm so glad you are getting on with yours! She's a star!

  3. My three critique partners are awesome!

  4. Thanks Siv, Erastes and Alex. I can't live without my BETA (I need a badge lol)

  5. When you are writing you have a bundle of mistakes that's why I give you a grammar and punctuation checker it will be beneficial when you are writing a services in an article.


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