Top 10 Things I Learned From My Beta Readers

Hey All!

This is my Saturday post, done early to encompass some things that I’m feeling right now. I thought it would be worthwhile in the middle of ripping my first draft to shreds (not quite, but am finding some scenes I need to rewrite) to outline the very important things I learned from my Beta Readers for my first book. I want to keep them in mind when going through this first draft.

#10: WHAT is going ON!? There’s too much action and not enough explanation here for my liking. Please, tell more, show less. There is such a thing as TMI, or showing TOO much.

#9: Watch the use of the adverb. Cunningly, Quietly, Slowly, etc. etc. Make those go away and fast. Nobody needs to be sauntering slowly, or sauntering at all for that matter. People can WALK.

#8: People can just say things. They don’t always need to be whispering, muttering, shouting, mumbling or grunting. In fact, if people grunt it’s sort of disgusting. Have you HEARD people grunt in real life? It’s not pleasant.

#7: Sometimes you need to rewrite a scene because it doesn’t make sense, or it’s too cheesy, or it’s just annoying the heck out of you. Suck it up buttercup, if it doesn’t work, rewrite it.

#6: What POV are you using? I understand you’re in 3rd person and all but omnipotence is reserved for God. Maybe you ought to be more limited in your use of 3rd person. Plus, it’s making me go cross eyed knowing what EVERYONE in the scene is THINKING. I already have to pay attention to what they’re SAYING and DOING. THINKING adds a whole new category of WTF to it.

#5: Watch those modern analogies. Unless they’re intentional, your characters can’t act like a deer in the headlights because they live in a fantasy realm with no cars. What headlights are they looking into exactly?

#4: Scott Pilgrim was EPIC. You are NOT. Stop using all that flowery EPIC language that’s been overdone in Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, R.A. Salvatore, Piers Anthony, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams (need I go on?) And don’t even THINK about Tolkienshiring that shit up! Get your own foreign language!

#3: Some of you really suck at this and point out all the commas and spelling errors. There are copy editors for those. And Grammar Police so I have heard. Also, if you don’t like my book, just say so, don’t rip it to pieces with your personalized opinions on how every f-ing sentence should be written. This is my book, not yours.

#2: STOP rewriting and changing and editing and and and to your book! It was actually better the first time around. This grotesque alien looking thing that seems like it’s been ripped to shreds and stitched back together by a zombie with one arm . . . NEEDS to be fleshed out. No pun intended.

#1: This is best articulated by the comments left in the MS and my mental reaction to them.

JL1: Did they earn that kiss?
Me: I thought they did, didn’t they?
JL1: I need to analyze this kissing scene.
Me: I really hope you don’t analyze the sex scene.
JL1: No, the climax is really effective.

Thanks to all my beta readers, and I think I ought to name some names so Natasha Heck, Sue Dawe and Jennifer Laughran, cuz you are the only three people who read it who actually had something to tell me that made the book better.


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