Sunday, July 09, 2006


Readers are important, especially what are called "beta" readers. They read your book before you send it to the agent. Before you send it anywhere important. I have had four beta readers so far on Victory and they have all helped me enormously. One reader will read for humor only. This part wasn't that funny to me. This part was. Another reader will comment on plot lines and how they hang together or don't hang together. You never know what a reader will pick up on.

I try to read for my friends as well. I know what they really want is a general impression. Do I like it? Is it interesting? Do I want to know what happens? Does one part seem too long? Also, the people I read for understand that it's all casual. If I thought someone was going to dutifully sit down and take every suggestion I gave, I wouldn't feel as free to give any. Get me? I don't take every suggestion either. But if three readers tell me the same thing, I have to take that seriously. If they all three give a different opinion on the same issue, I do what I want.

Some scenes you write and they come out almost perfect the first time. When I wrote my play PEPPERS, PAUL, AND ELIZABETH, I used a borrowed typewriter and the whole thing just spewed out onto the page. I don't remember making any revisions. But then other things are labored over, changed, then changed back again. My ending scene in Victory, or almost the ending scene, still needs a bit of sharpening. I still need one surprise in there and then it will be right. Hah!!! Like that's easy.

Lists help. I like lists. Also just sitting down and spending time on it helps. Ideas can thud into my head and through my fingers.

Uh oh, this post is taking on the ME! ME! ME! theme.

One more beautiful July day spent. I guard them jealously on all our behalves.

A bientot


At 12:41 AM , Blogger sandman1 said...

Are your beta readers mostly other authors or voracious readers, i.e. more like "pros", or are they mostly more casual readers, i.e. "amateurs"? I would think it's a different sort of discipline to read something with the idea that it could be changed completely -- you sort of have to step back out of the story to do that, don't you?

At 6:27 AM , Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

My ms for my second poetry book is with a reader as 'we speak'. It's quite a tense time until you get the report back - and unfortunately my publisher is slow, so I have quite a wait.
I know what you mean about if three concur ... but if they don't then you can do what you like.
Hope the ending works out just perfick!
And yes i can identify with the sadness at the end of a book - they become like friends - or even your child? Funny ...

At 7:37 AM , Blogger Becky said...

sandman1, Most of my readers are other authors and one is a relative, which I know shouldn't count because of obvious prejudice. But she's very good anyway and hey, it's not that easy to find readers you trust.
Yes, you do have to step back out of the story at times, but honestly, any kind of read usually gives some results.
Chief, good luck with your own reader comments.

At 9:47 PM , Blogger sandman1 said...

When you read for others, do you also read the final as-published version to see how it was changed?

I think using relatives is fine -- a little bias is good sometimes.

At 7:25 AM , Blogger Becky said...


Frequently, it's been so long since I've read the friend's work, by the time it's published, I can't remember what it was like before or even what I said. Like I said, casual.


At 11:17 PM , Blogger blogme said...

What are you looking for today?


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