January 16th, 2008
|08:07 am - How to Beta|
I've been having a discussion with artistsonly about beta, and how valuable it is. Here are a few of my favorite links.
1. By innerslytherin - Beta Reading
Specific feedback is more helpful than saying something is "good" or that "I like it."
Lots of good, practical, step by step advice on how to do or ask for a beta. Also a list of further beta links (one of which is below).
2. By schemingreader - The Helpful Beta Reader
If you are the writer--you got free editing. The proper response is "thank you." I think you should probably warn your beta if you aren't going to do everything she suggests, so that you don't wind up making her feel like she worked for nothing. But aside from that--"thank you."
A good rundown on some of the different aspects to doing a beta - SPAG, canon, characterisation, POV, description and probably most important of all, encouragement.
3. By laeladair - The Beta Reader - Unmasked
In general I recommend having at least two or more betas look over each story you write before it’s released to the public. In the best case scenario this gives you a few different opinions to draw from, and in the worst case it gives you a backup if one (or more) of your betas is too busy to get back to you.
Not all of your beta’s suggestions are going to be good. In fact, a great many of them will probably miss the mark — DON’T BE DISMISSIVE.... What you want to stay away from is scaring them into censoring their own feedback. Beta-readers are just as self-conscious as authors are and don’t like to be ridiculed or harassed for their opinions. My recommendation is to take everything they say with a smile as if you were going to go home that instant and act on every suggestion they gave you. Then, at a later point, you can decide what you will and will not use. Not only will this encourage your betas to be open and honest with you at all times, but it will keep you from talking about the story and influencing what they have to say through debate or discussion. Be honest and humble.
A nice long entry with lots of tips. I especially related to this one:
Post-criticism - Seethe in silence
The best thing you can do after getting your critique is, that’s right, nothing. Don’t act on it right away and, for the love of God, don’t respond with a comment, email, or IM unless you are 150% sure nothing negative or defensive is going to come across. Some people can transition flawlessly from the firing squad to the healing process but my guess is most people reading this can’t, myself included.
Oh, me neither. It usually takes me a couple of days before I'm out of my post-beta shellshock. But it's always worth it in the end.
January 15th, 2008
|05:38 am - About Writing|
I've come across a couple of really good posts about writing recently.
1. By minisinoo - The Glory of Plot
There was so much I learnt from this post. For example:
"Always show (don't tell/summarize) scenes that further the plot. Don't be afraid to summarize (or let occur off-camera) scenes that don't."It's so obvious, yet I'd never realised it before.
And it came at just the right time. I was struggling with a story, wondering why the start wasn't working at all. And then I realised - I was trying to stick a scene in the start that didn't actually further the plot. No wonder it didn't feel like it should be there and I'd been having so much trouble! At the same time I'd only mentioned in a few lines, off camera, an event that really did have a big influence. I'd done it the wrong way about!
So simple, yet so useful. There are loads of tips like this in the entry. Totally recommended.
2. By schemingreader - More About Writing Orgasms
"all descriptions of sexual acts must be narratives in microcosm"An interesting idea, with many quoted examples. And being schemingreader, the digression leads this way and that. For example, she's found the patent pending for an Orgasm-Measuring Probe. And guess where it's inserted? Yes, this is where the orgasm begins! I learnt new things about human anatomy, I can tell you.
Plus I got into a discussion about show versus tell in writing.
3. Not about writing. But I found a diagram of the clitoris at last! I was looking for one for ages. And of all places, it's on the BBC news website.
Quote: "The clitoris rivals the penis in size.... The vaginal wall is, in fact, the clitoris," said Dr O'Connell, who is based in Melbourne. "The original anatomists weren't interested in the clitoris. The penis was much more interesting. It was bigger and you didn't have to wear your spectacles to see it."
LOL. But now I have a diagram to point people at! Yes!