Beta Readers

If you are a writer, chances are you have a certain fear that all writers have:

Rejection.

The ugly reared head of criticism.

Of it’s not good enough.

Of the word, No.

Which is why you need a standing army of people to tell you that before you make your writing public. With a steady second group of eyes to go over your work, your success will surely be greater.

Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation

But this is for editors!

Wrong. If you send your work to an editor with a bunch of silly mistakes, the editor is never going to work with you again. you want your editor to focus on more important things like structure. With beta readers, your mistakes will become more prevalent. If three or more people are reading your manuscript, they will find your mistakes. Cleaning up your manuscript before it ever goes to an editor is professionalism, not tedious extra work.

Story

One of my beta readers recently called me and gave me a detailed critique of one of my stories. He said he was ‘entranced’ with it until a certain point. At said point, he became very confused and wasn’t thrilled with the rest of the story. Good criticism. Prompting me to rewrite that chunk of the story. This particular reader is a fan of hard sci fi, consequently the genre this story is in, so he had a lot of expertise on how to fix it.

Choosing

I had a beta reader who always said my stories were bad. They didn’t really give a reason, they just didn’t like them. In a later conversation, I found out that this person did not like reading short stories. Therefore, they are not a beta reader for me anymore.

When choosing beta readers, there are a few things to keep in mind other than the mistakes they can catch. They should be people who enjoy reading the genre you write in. Hopefully that genre is Sci Fi and you have an army of nerds awaiting your next creation!

Be careful with family. If you have a cousin or sibling that likes reading, by all means let them read for you. But your mom probably won’t give you any good constructive criticism. Make sure that if you have beta readers in your family that they will be beta readers and actually help you become a better writer. And being a better writer is what we are all trying to achieve.

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William Louison Guest Post

The following is a guest post by William Louison of What If It All Means Something

He is an active writer and self-publisher, who just won a Sunshine Award. You can check out his books at amazon, start here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B006YU1806/ref=mp_s_a_1?qid=1363702142&sr=8-4&pi=SL75

Now that you know about him, here’s a little bit directly from him. Enjoy!

What Science Fiction Means To Me
By William Louison

I grew up on Sci-Fi. My earliest memories consist of watching Star Trek with my family. At a very early age, I fell in love with outer space, aliens, starships, and everything else that makes Science Fiction so great.

To this day my favourite movies are Star Wars. I still get exhilarated watching these films I grew up with, and know all of the lines too. Each time I watch, I experience something a little bit different, but I never tire of them.

My whole life I’ve been reading Sci-Fi, watching Sci-Fi and absorbing Sci-Fi. There’s a magical quality about the realm of Science Fiction and it unlocks a part of your imagination that is unrestrained by any physical, logical, probable or conceivable obstacles.

I’m only 20 years old now, but it’s safe to say that I’ve lived Science Fiction for all of my twenty years. Half my day is spent living in another place – sometimes I consider it the universe of my mind. I was quite young when I realized that I could harness this imagination into much more than just day dreaming.

I’ve been writing since I was very little. It’s my absolute favourite thing to do, hands down. Nothing else can compare. The beauty and appeal of being is a writer is the ability to be in control. I get to dictate what happens. These are my ideas in my stories, from the depths of my imagination, from the earliest days of childhood, from my visions of the future…it’s all mine. And when you write you enter a world all of your own, where no one can reach you.

It takes an imagination to write anything, really, but when you’re writing a mainstream fiction, you need to have some sense of reality…some sense of fact. I knew from an early age that I wasn’t interested in ‘reality’ or ‘fact’. I didn’t want to write about that kid who goes to school, or that lawyer working on that case…I wanted to create my own world where no one could tell me I was wrong, or didn’t get something quite right, because it’s my world.

The marriage of writing and Science Fiction is where I live. It’s where I breathe. Creating planets, aliens, life forms, worlds, stars, ships, weapons, adventures…it’s unlike anything I do in my life. I feel that I can best express myself through characters that aren’t your ‘everyday people’. I can still write about social issues, but with a Science Fiction context. I can even write about that lawyer, but on a remote alien planet. All of these are possible when you write Science Fiction. There are no boundaries. Your imagination is the only thing that can limit you.

So, I guess this is why I write Science Fiction. I guess, also, this is why I don’t write a whole lot of anything else. While Science Fiction is limitless, and at times it can seem so strange, it’s really not that far-fetched. In fact, the characters can be just as relatable as any mainstream fiction. And, for a guy like me, maybe even more so.

Thanks for reading.
-Will

What If It All Means Something