Archive for editing

Mostly about Beta Readers

Posted in Books, My Opinion, love it or leave it, Novel Process, The Novel Itself, The Novel Process, Writing with tags , , , , , on April 8, 2018 by tgmreynolds

I had hoped for a big weekend of writing but decided that naps were important, too. I managed to clear the 70,000-word hurdle, with 5 days left to reach 80,000, though. Yah. No problemo.

One of the harder parts of writing the first draft of a mystery novel is fighting the temptation to go back and forth to make sure all of the clues tie into each other and make sense. I’m trying to write the first draft straight through, and will use the first full reading to tear it all apart and fix the links and leads and herrings, both red and green.

Many writers find themselves working on one manuscript for many years because they can’t write forward when there’s fine tuning to be done. I won’t say that any one method is better than another, because each writer must walk their own path, but for ME, I am pushing to write the first draft hard and fast. The second draft will take almost as long, as I tighten it all up. Then it will go to beta readers (who are already picked, thanks), who then take a shot at tearing it apart and showing me what doesn’t work where or make sense at all. MY beta readers don’t get to read and say “That was nice. Thank you.” They get to beat the manuscript into a bloody pulp so that it can rise again like Wolverine, stronger and ready for battle.

IMG_2685.jpgBut again, that’s specific to me. If you’re ever asked to be a beta reader, please ask the writer what kind of critique he or she wants. Not everyone wants a full out attack on their darling manuscript. I do. That’s how I improve. That’s also why I am very picky about who I get to beta read my work. We need to be on the same wavelength. Even a dear friend can be on a different wavelength. Also, some beta readers are all about showing the writer how smart they are, when the only real goal is to make the story better, tighter, more vibrant.

The other key thing about the writer/beta-reader relationship is that the reader has to be willing to happily accept when the writer doesn’t take their advice. Sometimes the writer has a deeper cause they’re working toward, and suggested changes just don’t work.

This is not the same as the writer/editor/publisher relationship, though. If a writer has signed a contract and the publisher’s editor has said “You need to do ‘A'”, it behooves the writer to either do ‘A’, or to clearly explain why they they can’t. It’s a relationship, and the editor has to trust the writer’s vision, while the writer must trust the editors experience.

And that is my short, one-paragraph summary of the weekend’s writing.

Ciao for now,



Writers and Editors

Posted in My Opinion, love it or leave it with tags , , , , , , , on January 21, 2012 by tgmreynolds

The hardest part about being a writer isn’t the writing (or it shouldn’t be), but rather the waiting for an editor to say “I LOVE IT!” or “Thank you sir/madam for your submission but your story/novel/haiku is not the right fit for us.”
To hell with instant gratification, I prefer instant REJECTION. Waiting to be rejected?! That’s nuts!

Yes, editors are busy, and yes, all submissions must be received before decisions are made so that the best COLLECTION can be created. I understand all that. I was an editor, too. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. 🙂


What I hope all the submission editors I contact understand is that a story may be my baby, but I’m not adverse to editor-suggested surgery to make my baby a better fit.

Literary Liposuction for the drawn-out ending? DONE!

Bookish Botox to fill in the historical flavouring? DONE and DONE!

Adjective Implants to lift the prose above average? Hell yah!

A Motivation Manicure to give the tale a more refined touch? Just tell me where and when!

Point of View Nip & Tuck? What are we waiting for?!

Writers not willing to make refinements might just have an overinflated view of the value of their work. Of course editors wanting to take a Flowers For Algernon-type tale and make it a space opera with Einstein-the-ape and a world-eating turtle who gains and loses intelligence need to be… well… use your imagination.

Just my collected and typed thoughts for the day before I actually pretend to get down to the task of writing.

That’s it, that’s all.

Ciao for now,