As of yesterday I finished the first reading version of ‘Stigma.’ This is different to a first draft which is just a rough cut. This version has gone through several iterations and is the first version that I allow to see the daylight. It comes into the world innocent, covered in bloody goo and incapable of making a good cup of coffee; but it’s a start.
The novel (a term I can now really use) goes out to beta readers. These are the dear people who get to see the first version and let me know if all the effort has indeed been worthwhile. I’ve sent them a list of question, or elements to take into account when reading the book. They tend to be things like:
- Story - does it engage you as a reader? Did you guess where it was going before reading. Is there anything that does not make sense to you?
- World Building - does the setting seem real? Can you imagine it, smell it, understand how it works? Does anything not seem convincing.
- Characters - do they seem real, are they sufficiently involved in the underlying concept of the story? Do they evolve over time and grow. Have they any flaws - too simple, their actions don't make sense, are they contrived?
- Language - does it scan and read correctly? Did you find yourself stumbling over any of the sentences or paragraphs? Did you have to re-read sections of the book for it to make sense? Does the language fit the reading material?
- Spelling / Grammar - Doesn't matter how many times I re-write errors always slip in.
The beta readers are a great help to me as they are the first audience, the opening night jeerers if you will. They give me the confidence to send the book on to my agent and ultimately publishers.
All being well, they should get back to me within the next couple of weeks. In the mean time, I’ve been putting a lot of links to other writers essays and advice on Twitter. I’ve put some of these below because I know that not all of you indulge in the blue bird, plus it makes it easier for me to find them in the future. Enjoy.
- "Submerging the 'I'" by Chuck Palahniuk http://bit.ly/gZm5Me
- Is my novel really any good? And other writing pre-occupations http://bit.ly/fdnPRQ by Ziggy Kinsella
- New blog post http://12books12months.com/2011/01/30/writing-routines/ by Ali George
- 20 authors and their unique writing rituals: http://bit.ly/e4Zlid
- Write Like A Pro http://is.gd/JYw2eQ
- MIND MELD: The Future Of Publishing http://t.co/7lnwp8Q Some very interesting predications for writers!