Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Thanks To My Other Eyes

I’m one of those writer’s who insist on having my work beta tested once I’ve completed all the working drafts to my satisfaction.  To me, the fresh set of eyes ogling my work is key to developing my story into a well-rounded tale.  After all, in the end, it’s not me that’s going to be reading my work; it’s the Reader.  So these betas to me are like the breadcrumb clues detectives look for, like looking into a dark room with a flashlight, instead of a candle.

I normally ask at least two people to beta my work.  One, in the early stages of my working drafts—usually a ‘reader’ and not a ‘writer.’  I can gauge from their response whether or not the story is going as planned and if I’ve gotten the right reaction from the tale I want to tell.  My second beta is usually from someone whose work I respect, like a fellow writer.  This stage let’s me pinpoint plot holes and story issues the tale can be suffering from.

In each instance, I usually ask my beta readers to answer a few questions in detail.  The questions are usually about whether the story flowed, if the characters were believable, if the story was strong or boring, what areas stood out, what areas they wanted to see more of, and finally, what they’d change about it and why.  I also ask how they felt after reading it (did it make they happy, excited, scared, angry, that sort of thing).

After gathering all this information, I dive back into it and hack away. Usually by the 3rd or 4th drafts, I’ve got a working story that’s more or less ready for presentation.  And then the editing stages commence (whole other story).

But enough about all that.  I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all my beta readers.  The unsung heroes who have the honour of witnessing the very beginnings of a tale develop.  Who’s opinions I take to heart and respect with great appreciation because they have helped to shape the story into the final end product.  Without them, the story would be crap. I would list them all, but I know some are bashful and prefer to remain unknown...but you know who you are.

So thanks to you all, and have a wonderful Christmas season everyone!

TK Toppin


Big Mike said...

Agree. Authors are blind to the flaws and voids in their stories. Your critique team can be the differences between a so so script and one that is OMG.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Having the reader read it first is an excellent idea. You get the encouragemnt to go on or the warning that soething is not working. The commas can wait.

TKToppin said...

Absolutely! Thanks for stopping by guys.

Richard Hacker said...

So very true. Although sometimes I find they'll get a bit too attached to a character I decide to kill off or cut completely out. A martini goes a long way in smoothing over their angst...

TKToppin said...

Haha! This is true, Richard. And agreed. A martini is the perfect 'tonic' to cure angst. Speaking of which.... ;)