Stepping into the forest of my mind

Stepping into the forest of my mind
Just as every journey begins with a first step, every story begins with the first word.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Developmental Editors and Beta Readers—the Need for Both #AuthorToolboxBlogHop


            Revising a manuscript can be a nightmare, or it can be a calm reevaluation of your story.
           
I know, I know. To combine the word calm with writer in revision sounds like an oxymoron. Like freezer burn or bittersweet. An oxymoron is a combination of two contradictory terms. Or maybe I’m the only UN-calm writer. I’m usually flustered about something. 
http://victoriamarielees.blogspot.com


But staying calm during revision doesn’t need to be an oxymoron in terms. A solid revision requires a good reader for your story. Someone who knows story and what makes it work. This could be an editor, a book coach, or a trusted fellow writer or two.

This revision reader looks at your story as a whole. This reader needs to make sure the story holds together and the characters act consistently with the backstory you have created for them. And it’s a good idea to allow this trusted reader in on early versions of your story.

What I’m talking about is Developmental Editing. This should be the first step in the revision process. It can be done by a professional editor or a book coach. And can be helpful near the beginning of your story’s journey. Developmental editors or book coaches are there to be sure your story has no major plot holes. They make sure the characters are well-developed.

Developmental Editing is very important to your story’s success and shouldn’t be left for Beta Readers unless you have a trusted, accomplished story-writer friend who can show you what’s missing in your story.

Beta Readers are a wonderful part of revision AFTER you have your story down. I can’t wait to offer my memoir to Beta Readers. Usually writers want Beta Readers to address specific questions in their manuscripts.

For example:
Is the timeframe and location clear in each scene?
Where do you lose interest? Why, do you think?
What questions remain unanswered about the plot or who’s who?
Is the emotion on the page?
Do you get lost anywhere?

Beta Readers offer their opinions on sections of your story. They are great to give feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author. This feedback is used by the writer to fix remaining issues with plot, pacing, and consistency.

I prefer an open dialogue with anyone who reads my stories. If they have questions about a passage, I like to have an opportunity to explain what I’m trying to say in the scene. Then I ask the reader what his interpretation of the scene is. Only then can I see what’s missing from the story.

As writers, we are very close to our stories, our characters. What we think is in the story, may not be when someone who does not know the story reads it. And yes—Developmental Editors tell you these things too.

You pay for Developmental Editors. You shouldn’t pay for Beta Readers. You are paying for the Developmental Editor’s expertise in the business of storytelling, of creating viable books for sale. They are the more expensive editors, when preparing a book for publication, as opposed to line editing—which is done at the completion of all other revision work for the story. Another important step to have completed.

I have used a book coach, originally from Author Accelerator, to create a solid version of my college memoir. I took a few months off from my memoir to create more YA short stories for the magazine market, to give myself distance from the memoir story. Now it’s time to pick up with my editor, Michele Orwin, and finish a final version of this memoir story.

Has anyone ever added scenes to their stories or memoir about what the protagonist was like before the inciting incident or before the story present? I’m interested in how you set up the scenes and where you placed them in your story. Please share any insight you may have in the comments section of Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much!

And thank you for visiting Adventures in Writing. Please follow my blog if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in the comment so I can be sure to do the same for you. To continue hopping through more amazing blogs or to join our Author Toolbox blog hop, click here

29 comments:

  1. I've never used a development editor. I do use test readers who get the story before my critique partners and they tell me what doesn't work or what needs to be adjusted.

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    1. That can work, Alex! Lucky you to have such treasured readers who understand your genre and have the logical mind to see that everything makes sense and works. Bravo!

      It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for your note. Enjoy your weekend!

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  2. You sound close to finishing your memoir. Congrats. A developmental editor is vital to me. Thank you for the above post.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Dawn. I truly appreciate them. Yes, a developmental editor can help you see what you can't in your own work.

      Thanks for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  3. I have added scenes about what the protagonist was like in the past, and I've done it at the crucial moment where that information is needed. A quick flashback or bit of exposition is often the better choice, but perhaps because of my genre (crime fic), I felt the scenes I did add were more impactful, because the scenes themselves were reveals. Hard to say what's the best option for all stories; it depends on the book.

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    1. Yes it does, Raimey. The key, I think, is to weave in the past--the reason for actions--when the protagonist could be thinking about them. And yes, I think a "quick flashback or bit of exposition" could be all that's needed so as not to interrupt the flow of a scene. I am still learning this, or possibly I don't see this during my first or second pass through the manuscript.

      It's always a pleasure seeing you here at Adventures in Writing. Thanks so much for your note. Enjoy your weekend!

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  4. Well done Victoria - it does sound as though things are coming together. We all need help at times ... it's making sure it's what we need and that it's helping us improve our writing - without taking our voice out of our memoir, book or story. Take care - cheers Hilary

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    1. This is so true, Hilary. This is why writers should research developmental editors or beta readers to be sure they see the writer's vision of the story and the meaning and reason for the writer's voice. It's a scary thing, isn't it? And this is true whether it is writing, religion, or medicine.

      Thanks for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  5. I agree. We do need both very much. Thank you for your questions to pose to Beta Readers too :) Happy Hop Day :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Erika. I truly appreciate them. And thanks for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  6. This is the post I wish I'd read when I began this journey :)

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    1. Use it for the next journey, Tony! Thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. All best to you, sir!

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  7. Fully agree. They serve different purposes.

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    1. Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing, Marian! Yes, they do.
      Thank you so much for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your weekend!

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  8. Yes! My books would go absolutely nowhere without beta readers, they are like my secret weapon. And I swear by getting a developmental editor to look at it, as well. I've had good experiences with developmental edits, they always make my story stronger.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your insight here at Adventures in Writing, S.E. I truly appreciate it. I've got a developmental editor. Now all I need to do, once the revision work is complete, is find some excellent beta readers. Enjoy your weekend!

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  9. After Mexmur, the huntress, was accepted by an indie publisher, an editor suggested I add more depth to a legend. It definitely added depth to work. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. The reason for this kind of editing, Anna, is that they can see where stuff is missing that can indeed add depth to our work.

      Thanks for your note here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  10. Great post! I do line editing and beta reading, and people are often confused about when to do each step of the editing process. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing, Charity. I truly appreciate them. I believe we need to get the developmental end of our story correct before line editing and then send it out to betas. Thanks for sharing your insight. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  11. I think your questions should be stuck to every writer's screen in the editing process. I'm writing them down right now. I agree, editors are a must. We are too emotionally involved not to miss something.

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    1. Including mine, Joylene! You are correct. Writers are very much "too emotionally involved" in our stories to see any and all problems. Editors are vital.

      Thank you for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. I truly appreciate them. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  12. i agree, editors are worth the money and betas should be free, usually friends for me. Solid post with good advice!

    and thanks for stopping by my Beast World campaign at Alex’s

    Tara Tyler Talks

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    1. My pleasure, Tara! And thanks for your kind words here at Adventures in Writing. I truly appreciate them. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  13. I weave short flashbacks or thoughts into the main story of my memoir to pinpoint to experiences, characteristics, or back story in order to provide the readers with a better understanding about my personality or actions.

    I could use a developmental editor right now (yes, I waited for that until the end of the writing and revision process), but they are way too expensive. Still hoping for a publisher to pick up my work...

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  14. Absolutely how and why you weave in backstory, Liesbet. But man, is it difficult to do. Yes, developmental editors are more expensive than line editors. They get the pacing right and make sure everything you need is in the manuscript.

    You have such a fascinating story, Liesbet. I'm sure you will be picked up soon. I always appreciate your insight here at Adventures in Writing. Have a beautiful weekend!

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  15. I've never paid for developmental edits at this point in my writing career, but this post definitely gives me something to think about. :)

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  16. Hello and welcome to Adventures in Writing Christy! If you have people you trust reading your manuscript and they understand writing and storytelling, you should be good. But a good developmental editor is worth her expertise in gold.

    Thank you so much for your comment here at Adventures in Writing. Enjoy your week and be safe!

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  17. Hello there, Victoria! First time commenting on your blog, you may notice... Gotta agree with you 100%, we need both. And it seems like you're finishing things up, which is great news. Anyways, hope to see you around, girl! :)

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