Writer That Has No Idea How To Polish Needs Urgent Help!
I'd been lurking around this forum for a while, and I've read that Beta Readers don't accept first drafts, but I need a writer friend to read over my work and guide me in the right direction. Let me tell you about my work.
Words, a little over 160,000
Genre: gay romance (??)
Reason for Title: Relationships of identical twins, one has a relationship with a man that's 13 years younger than him and the other has a relationship with another man that's 19 years younger.
Kind of critique I want: Baby steps. I want someone who has the patience of beta reading a work that has 160,000 words in it, first of all, and the critique, well, first of all I want you to give me a one-liner. Tell me if I even know how to tell a story or not.
Then, at the first round, tell me if any of my characters are Gary Stus.
In the second round, I want you to tell me what you think I should cut. If there's anything you think I should add, also tell me and I'll follow your advice to the tee.
In the third round: tell me what you think I'm doing wrong. Plot holes, too many adjectives or adverbs, poor or too-thorough description, that sort of thing.
OPEN MIND, please. If gay erotica or romance is not your cup of tea, please don't respond to this query at all. I don't want to make anyone here feel uncomfortable or subject them to something they wouldn't read or write.
Critique Harshness: on a 1 - 10 level, 3, please. This is my first effort that I've taken seriously, I am 25, and I can be pretty sensitive, so a critique too harsh might drive me to stop writing for a while.
If interested please PM me or reply to this post. I have a service that only allows 1000 minutes for downloading or uploading and those can be eaten up pretty fast, so please allow me to paste my manuscript into the body of the email and please paste it into your word processor for reading.
Not for nothing, and who knows, you may find someone willing to do this, but what you're looking for is not a beta reader, but an editor.
The reason beta readers don't want first drafts is because they're not generally providing free editing services, which is what you're asking for.
As I said, you may find someone perfectly willing to do it, but that's what you want.
Originally Posted by cornflake
I'm going to have a moderator lock this thread. I'll be right back.
Cornflake makes a valid point. You need to make sure your work is as polished as you can get it to be before sending it to a beta. I think most betas would get a bit snippy if an MS is filled with grammatical errors and plot holes. So I'd suggest going through your work a couple of times first.
The other thing is, the impression I got is that you'd like a beta who would read your MS many times over? (I'm getting this impression from the words "in the first round", "in the second round" etc, so I could be wrong..) I think that rather than having one beta read your MS multiple times, it's better to aim for multiple betas, one per redraft.
Best of luck with it!
ETA: oops, cross-posted.
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Perhaps a critique group would be more beneficial to you than a beta at this point. You might also try sharing a chapter on SYW if you haven't already to get a general idea of whether there are any common errors you're making or places you can look to cut. Good luck!
Originally Posted by wampuscat
Thank you so much. I will try that.
Seconding the idea of posting to SYW. That will at least give you an idea of what kind of going over it may need, and answers to some of the basic questions you have about your writing. If you look around at different threads in SYW you'll see the range of work people post.
I wasn't meaning to suggest you couldn't or shouldn't ask, btw - just saying you weren't possibly using the terms that'd get you what you wanted. If you posted looking for betas and people willing to do that looked and were all 'this isn't a beta read you're looking for' that might turn them off whereas if you were asking more clearly ... that was all I meant.
Agreed with above, ChristinaLeyton.
Assuming it's up to date, the counter in your signature suggests you've only written 4,000 words of the story you want to be critted.
It's not always the best idea to seek crits at such an early stage and risk interrupting the creative flow by turning to editing mode but...
If you think you're particularly sensitive to criticism, do say so, but remember that no matter what folk say it's meant to be constructive and it is only words that they are commenting upon - not you.
Everything yields to treatment.
You might want to start off will a little less ambitious objective. Try to find someone who will read *one* chapter and critique / copy edit it. Mistakes found in the first chapter are likely to be found throughout, so you can go through the rest of your manuscript to correct those problems. Then go on to the next chapter.
As you progress through subsequent chapters, your writing will improve and your reader can concentrate on other issues instead of seeing the same old ones over and over.
This is actually more of an alpha reader situation, but I did this with my brother (who was a newspaper editor) and it helped my writing quite a lot.
Once you've completed this, you can get a beta reader to give you feedback on more over-arching story issues.
Might be worth picking up some books on editing to help get you in the right mindset. "Self-Editing for Fiction Writers" is very popular.
Thirding this idea, for another reason. "Tell me and I'll follow your advice to the tee" is a good idea only if the advice you're getting is 100% perfect, and what are the odds of that?
Originally Posted by cornflake
If you hang out in Share Your Work a bit, you'll get a feel for people's critique styles and knowledge levels. And, if you put your own opening scene up, you can see how much consensus there is in the feedback you get. That can be a much more valuable learning experience than a single random beta reader. (Not that the two are mutually exclusive. You can use Share Your Work and also pair up with beta readers.)
I'll fourth the idea. Share Your Work is wonderfully useful. While the critiques are honest, they're almost always fair.
But I'll also second Bufty's warning:
Be very careful about getting feedback if you haven't finished the draft.
Originally Posted by Bufty
If you're wanting to get alpha/beta readers involved, though, there's no harm in using Share Your Work -- a SYW critique won't interrupt your creative flow any more than alpha reader feedback would, and getting feedback from a large pool of people means you can easily filter out the advice that works for you.
practical experience, FTW
SYW = Show Your Work. It's a password-protected area of these forums that's wonderfully helpful!
Originally Posted by Cactus Land