Today’s Writing Tip

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Beta readers are worth their weight in gold. Make sure your story is as good as you can possibly make it yourself before sending it out to them. You waste their time as well as your own when they pick up issues you could have fixed yourself with one more edit.

Definitely spellcheck! There’s no excuse for spelling errors! Proper usage of homonyms (e.g. their, there, and they’re) is one thing spellcheckers will miss as well as simply typing the wrong word. We all tend to read right over them in our own work, but there’s no excuse for blatant garden-variety typos that a spellchecker should catch.

I have made this mistake before and had things pointed out that I planned to fix. My first draft tends  primarily to be action and dialog, any imagery and emotion sometimes missing entirely, or more of the “tell” mode instead of the preferred “show.”  I have learned to wait until I’ve really polished the story to my own satisfaction before handing it over to a critique group or beta reader. Bear in mind it is probably the only version of your story that they’ll ever read. Don’t you want it to be your best work?


Today’s Writing Tip

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Beta readers are essential to authors. These are the folks, usually fellow authors or existing fans, who read what you THINK is your final draft and point out why it’s not. Of course you need to brace yourself for some criticism. One way to deal with that if it really bothers you is to see your beta readers as team members, pre-editors if you will, who will help you perfect your product.

You may not agree with all their suggestions, but they’re worth considering. It’s always interesting to see if your readers are going to get any point you’re trying to make or not. They can also help find typos and other grammatical issues, like misused homonyms.

If you’ve never been a beta reader, offer to do so for an author friend or favorite author. Besides being a great way to network and make new friends, you’ll be surprised what you learn along the way. When you find something that really sticks in your craw as a reader, be honest about whether you may be guilty of the same faux pas.