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.

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

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Insecure Writers Want to Know: Have you ever included personal traditions/customs in your stories?

            What an interesting question. I guess the problem with answering this question is; I don’t consider any of my personal family’s traditions or customs unique.

            I start many a story or blog post with a family experience or two. From my personal experiences of Camping with FiveKids, to the national parks and forests we’ve visited, many of my YA short stories come from our adventures. But traditions and customs? I don’t think they are any different from anyone else’s.

            Let’s consider:
            Each summer, we camp with seven people in a tiny tent trailer that needs to be set up at each campsite. What’s different about that? We travel coast to coast and up into Canada for a month with those seven people—all sharing the duties of food preparation and clean-up for meals, accomplishing the laundry, hiking together for hours in the heat and the rain. Is that a tradition? Or is it just plain insanity?  

            In my memoir about attending college as a mother of five, I share how I made accomplishing a college degree and child rearing work. In this memoir, I share my belief that family comes first, that I am a mother first and a college student second. As a parent, I demonstrate to my children how to accomplish difficult goals, how to persevere through trial, and how to seek out assistance when necessary. But most of all, I believe I show my children how to stand up for themselves when they feel they are right. Is that sharing a custom or tradition out of the norm? Or is it a crazy person just trying to survive in a world, that in the beginning of the memoir, she felt she did not belong?  

You be the judge, cherished followers of Adventures in Writing. I’ll be interested to see how you’ve tackled this month’s question. It’s great having a topic to share our thoughts on each month. I am extremely thankful for all of you for being my sounding board and advisors in this writing and publishing game.

Thanks so much for visiting! Please follow Adventures in Writing if you haven’t already and connect with me online. Leave your blog link in your comment so I can be sure to do the same for you.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.  To join us, or learn more about the group, click HERE.