Editing and Beta Readers

See How I Self-Edit My Novels: 15 Steps From First Draft to Publication. There are a number of interesting, and delightfully detailed articles here. 

I worry a bit about the nature of advice to fiction writers. (I know a little about writing non-fiction.)

  • Some short answers are a lot of poetry about creating characters, following them around, and writing down what they say and do. This feels almost useless. It’s helpful in some respects, but it’s also too vague to be practical.
  • Some long answers are heavy on specific, concrete “structure your book like this.” I think this is, actually, very helpful. I hate to suggest that there’s a fixed template, but, people who read a lot tend to spot these patterns, and if your book doesn’t follow the common patterns, I suspect it goes nowhere. (The more queries I write, the more I suspect this.)

In non-fiction world, the templates are very strict, and explicit. The point of some kinds of technical writing is to be almost anti-clever. Especially when trying to communicate specific technical skills in a kind of repeatable way.

(There’s a narrative non-fiction realm that’s aspirational for me. Fiction is more fun.)

A lot of the 15 steps in the article involve beta readers. Hello, critters.org. I intend to make heavy use of other critters as beta readers as I move forward.

Also, see 15 Places to Find Your Next Beta Reader. I don’t think I need to chase every one of these, but I may need to branch out beyond critters.org.

We’ll see where this takes us.

 © F. L. Stevens 2019