#Writetip: An Author Needs Beta Reads

Face facts, without a group of beta readers, your editing is incomplete. You can only do a certain amount of self-editing, at least 2 or 3 passes over your writing before you need the aid of some fresh eyes.

book

Open Book by Honou used under CC License

The best would be fellow authors working as a small support group, or a local writer’s guild that has a critique group. You can even try to create an on-line network of fellow #indieauthors.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about beta readers. They can point out things that just passed over your head. Those types of errors are easy for a writer to make because everything is clear to the writer, and sometimes it’s hard to put yourself into the mind of a person who knows nothing about your plot and characters.

When I presented the #shortstory Little Red Revolution to my critique circle, I thought that my main character’s attitude was clear.  However, the readers understood and perceived his anger and displeasure, but then questioned why his attitude changed so rapidly. I never intended for anyone to see a change until the final paragraph of part I, but all of the readers thought that the change occurred four pages earlier. Why? Because I had failed to clearly explain that the character also expresses his anger through sarcasm.

The readers thought he had become comical too quickly, a change that I did not intend. I’ve altered it based on their feedback. A good beta read can give your work a final polish and quality that the general reading public expects from a traditional publishing house.

Have your beta readers given you some insightful commentary?

The Special Language of #Fantasy

If you’re either a reader or an author of fantasy then it’s a probable bet that you’ve read The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. You may remember with a smile words like taters, olyphaunt, pipeweed, and eleventy-first. It was this precise nature of playing with words that brought Middle-Earth to life in a very special and unique way.

tolkien

“J.R.R. Tolkien, Da Morto” by Daniele Prati used under Creative Commons License.

As part of fantasy world-building, other authors must do the same but in our own way. We should learn from Tolkien and create a #writingtip for our usage. However, we must define what is special about the words. Firstly, you just can’t make up some strange word that is going to act like a speed-bump to the reader. You didn’t need a glossary or a long winded description to recognize “pipeweed”. You knew what it was and recognized Tolkien’s playfulness the second you read it.

Now, the world-building in Science Fiction can be a little different. Remember the tachyon particles from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and how often they were used in the series? People had no idea what a tachyon was; yet, their nature never really had to be explained. #Sci-Fi fans (including myself) just accepted it.

I’ve set out to accomplish the same type of playfulness in the world-building of Tyrhennia in The First Light. Take a look at a scene as two characters have breakfast at the Sword and Anvil Tavern in the city of Mentiria:

Daggorat leaned forward. “You should write a book about the common speech of the three kingdoms. Especially tavern slang.” Cyril responded with a negative grunt. Then Daggorat said, “Back home in Easterly, flatcakes and bangers are roundcakes and porklogs. It could be an interesting book.”

“Certainly not,” Cyril said. “Judging from the intellectual capacity of those three nobnoggins that we refer to as kings, such a treatise would probably start another great war.”

Did you pick up on the meaning of flatcakes, roundcakes, porklogs, and nobnoggins? Readers in the U.K. will recognize banger as sausage, while U.S. readers may not. However, from the use of porklog, the reader should be able to infer the meaning of sausage. Of course, The First Light is not laced that heavily with this type of vocabulary. You’ve just witnessed its most concentrated use in Chapter 1. I don’t do this again until another tavern scene in Chapter 7 and again in Chapter 14 when some characters are studying a map. I couldn’t use the word “geography” in the world of Tyrhennia, so I made up the word “tyrhenostrophy”. How do you feel about word-play for the sake of world-building?