Please forgive my absence. There is no excuse, except to say, “I took a long journey. No, not to some fabulous island, or a trip abroad, but rather to my novels, the ones waiting to get published. I wanted to go back over each one with a new fine-tooth comb.”
These have gone through critique groups, gentle reading from other writers, but when a writer friend said she would do a “beta” read, this intrigued me. She did some of a novel, and we met to discuss her findings. Yikes. I got more information about my writing than I did from an editor, and she’s not finished yet.
So, I offered to “beta” read her novel. I gave her some of my findings and surprised myself with what bits and pieces I caught. My red pen got heated, as did my mind and creative side. Okay, I got picky, if not for her, for me, and my instincts sharpened.
Then, I decided to take my own novel and do MY “beta” read. I did not hold back. I searched for words, phrases, out of place scenes, duplicate words, and I was not easy on myself.
No, I did not do this on the computer (another long journey), rather I printed out 335 pages, got a new red pen, and in the evenings, I went to work. I read, marked, marked, marked, and then read again. I was on a ROLL. The red ink ran out, but I do keep a small stash of these red pens at hand.
I felt in control of me and my writing. When I came to something questionable, a big red “X” went across the page. I wasn’t critiquing me, I was critiquing my writing. And, I noticed the sensor stayed out of the way.
I need to thank my “beta” read person and all the pain she caused me. Why? Because, I now know how to critique myself in a new and inventive way. Does this hurt? YES. Does this help? YES. I can take a look at my words and see beyond the letters into the depths of the story.
Now, I’m back and ready to put some of the red marks into a revision of one novel. Might end up with eight or nine (8-9) revisions; but if it takes ten, I’m on my way.
Let me hear from you and any of your experiences with a “beta” read or your ways to re-read your work and come out exhausted, but knowing you are on a new plateau.
I’ll be back sooner, and thanks for the new journey.