Who Will Read Your First Draft And How Do You Help Them?

When I finished the first draft of my first novel, Descent, I was exhilarated and terrified. Exhilarated because I’d accomplished my dream of writing a novel, and terrified because I now had to share it with someone.

But who?

My lucky husband got to be my first beta reader. He understood how important my story was to me. He’d be kind yet helpful. So I took a deep breath and hit the print button.

I couldn’t be in the same room with him as he read. That was just too stressful.

Once he finished, he gave me one of the most useful pieces of advice that I still use today. It came in the form of a question.

“Do you know you start every scene in a doorway?”

I hadn’t noticed that. His question made me do a full rewrite of every scene, looking at the opening. This is when I discovered the term in medias res — start in the middle of the action.

Now, before I share my story with anyone, I check the beginning of each scene and choose the opening carefully. I try to open with a hook for each scene.

As the years have gone by, I’ve had many beta readers and received a lot of valuable advice, comments, and questions. I couldn’t write the way I do without these precious people.


What’s a Beta Reader?

A beta reader is a person who reads your manuscript before it’s published and provides you with feedback on your story. The feedback is usually on characters, plot, and settings. (Although you may get comments on copyediting and proofreading, too.)

A helpful beta reader gives you honest feedback, positive or negative, that you use to improve your story.

An ineffective beta reader says, “That’s a nice story. I liked it.” While that feels good, it doesn’t help you write a better story.


Tips for Getting Useful Feedback

Convincing friends to give you honest feedback is difficult. People who care about you usually don’t want to hurt your feelings and may be worried about beta reading.

Questions like “What if I don’t like the story?” or “How will I tell you if I find something I don’t like?” may swirl around their heads while they’re thinking of a way to say no.

Make sure your readers understand you won’t be hurt or offended by negative feedback. Feedback on what’s not working is the only way for you to tell a better story.

To make it easy for your beta readers to know what you want, provide a list of specific questions or instructions. This will help your reader know what you want from them.

I ask beta readers to do or answer the following:

  1. Mark anywhere you skim. This is an easy way to know that the writing is boring.
  2. Did you get confused on who a character was? Maybe you need more clues or dialogue tags.
  3. Did you lose track of who was speaking? I like to write with minimal dialogue tags, so this is critical.
  4. Note anytime you suspect a character of being the villain or know the ending. This helps to determine if you’ve done enough to too much foreshadowing.
  5. Mark each passage where you stopped reading. Get your beta readers to mark this each time, even it was to have dinner, go to work, etc. If all your beta readers put the book down at the same passage, there may be a problem with the story.
  6. Did you notice any story inconsistencies? To help your beta reader, give them an example of what you mean. I read a story where a dog was left at home in one scene, and in the next scene, the dog was still with the owner. The author had forgotten where the dog was.
  7. Avoid asking for copy editing or proofreading from beta readers. It’s ok if your readers notice errors and point them out, but what you want at this stage is input on your story, not on the grammar or typos.

Make Your Beta Reader Feel Special

Image Source: Pixabay

Once you’ve put a lot of time into finding helpful beta readers, you want to keep them for your next book.

The first time a beta reader gives you negative feedback, thank them. If you make the suggested change, let them know. A beta reader will put a lot of effort into reading your story and seeing that their comments resulted in changes can be very satisfying.

When you ask someone to beta read, make it easy for the author by asking what format he/she would like to receive the manuscript in. I offer a PDF file first, but some prefer a printed copy and others mobi. Some like to receive manuscripts in .docx format as it’s easy to convert and read on a Kindle. I try to send the manuscript in the format the beta reader prefers. I believe it’s a sign of respect for the person.

In the acknowledgment section of your published book, thank your beta readers. Mine all love to see their names in the book.

Make your beta reader feel really special and send them a signed copy of your book once it’s published.

Let us know if you have any suggestions for working with beta readers. We’d love to hear from you!


Perform a Story Edit Before Sharing with Beta Readers

Fictionary is online software that simplifies story editing. Fictionary will help you evaluate your story on a scene-by-scene basis. You’ll be able to focus on problem areas in your manuscript and improve it quickly. Then your beta readers will be impressed!

Why not check out Fictionary’s free 14-day trial and tell better stories? We don’t ask for a credit card until you’re ready to pay, so there’s no risk.

Thanks for reading!

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Can Dogs Sell Books to Non-Bookstores?

Farley thinks he can!

Yesterday Farley helped me deliver books to the General Store. Tourist season is here, and it’s a great time for the shelves to be stocked.

DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE now have a front seat, right beside the till. Theres’s little poster highlighting I’m a local author, so people visiting the resort can buy something local while on their vacation. Every little advantage helps when you’re trying to sell your paperbacks.

Farley and Books

If you want to learn how to sell you’re paperbacks to non-bookstores check out THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES.

And don’t worry about Farley working. He’s paid in dog treats by the manager at the store.

Thanks for reading.

Last Day! Last Chance For Your Summer Sizzle!

I’m visiting Allison Bruce today where you can  Meet Nora Cummings: A girl in trouble.

But the other news I have to share is:

IMAJIN having a choice of many books, all on sale. You don’t have to IMAJIN it. You CAN find the list at www.ImajinBooks.com and choose from many genres and authors. The sale ends tonight.

summersizzles4

Of course The Stone Mountain Series is on sale too.

DESCENT

BLAZE

AVALANCHE

and

THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES

Thanks for reading…

AVALANCHE: Stone Mountain Mystery #3 In Paperback

 Avalanche Cover FinalWith only 6 days to go until AVALANCHE is released,  Imajin Books has just announced that AVALANCHE is now available in Trade Paperback  on Amazon.com.

AVALANCHE will be available soon in Trade Paperback on other amazon sites world wide.

Today begins a busy week for me. I start touring blogs tomorrow, with the wonderful Kat Flannery kicking off the tour. I’ve written a unique blog for each guest post, hoping to give everyone’s readers something special.

Next Saturday, is the big day.  It’s less than a year since DESCENT was published, nine months since BLAZE was released, and I have to pinch myself to believe it’s actually happening.

In case you prefer to read on your eReader, AVALANCHE is on sale for a limited time for $0.99 USD. 

Thank you to all of you who have supporting me in my journey to publish the first three novels in the Stone Mountain Mystery Series.

 

 

 

Write Better Fiction: POV and Writing A Series

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing a series, and what an author must consider when it comes to point of view.

AVALANCHE is the third book in the Stone Mountain Mystery Series and is to be released June 25th, 2016. When I first started writing the series, I thought I was writing a standalone novel. Of course my characters took over, and now I have a series.

Early on, I decided to write in close third person from multiple points of view. Little did I know, that once I made that decision, I would have to stick to that for the rest of the series.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when you begin your novel. And when you ask these questions of yourself, don’t assume you’ll be writing a standalone novel. You just never know.

Do you plan to switch POVs?

If you’re going to have multiple POVs in your novel, it’s important to let your reader know this early on in the story.

It could be jarring for a reader to get half way through a novel, and the POV is ripped from underneath their feet and a new character steps in.

Changing POVs in the first few chapters will warn the reader this is your style and hopefully they’ll enjoy your book more. They’ll expect different characters to have their say, to drive the novel, and to provide surprises. They won’t get so attached to one POV that they can’t bear the change and toss the novel aside.

What POV type will you choose?

Can you be consistent for an entire novel or several novels?

  • If you chose first person, do you stay in first person? Do you reference anything first person can’t possibly know?
  • For Third person, are you writing third person, third person limited or omniscient? If limited, so you reference things character can’t know about? In limited reader can’t see into characters mind.

For the second book in your series, follow the same POV pattern. The reader will expect a similar style and voice in the second and following books.

BOOKS I’ve read on POV:

The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley

Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card

Characters, Emotions and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

A Little About AVALANCHE (To Be Released June 25th, 2016):

Avalanche Cover FinalOn a cold winter morning, the safe at Stone Mountain Resort is robbed, and Kalin Thompson’s brother, Roy, suspiciously disappears. As Director of Security, Kalin would normally lead the investigation, but when her brother becomes the prime suspect, she is ordered to stay clear.

The police and the president of the resort turn their sights on Kalin, who risks everything to covertly attempt to clear Roy’s name. As threats against her escalate, she moves closer to uncovering the guilty party. Is Kalin’s faith in her brother justified? Or will the truth destroy her?

A Gift to My Readers from Imajin Books:

Imajin Books has put AVALANCHE on sale for $0.99 USD for a limited time. Grab your copy before the price goes up. It’s available for pre-order now.
Thanks for reading…

Thanks for Reading…

Kristina Stanley