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Thread: Beta Project 2017 (now with updated links)

  1. #1
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Beta Project 2017 (now with updated links)

    Updated links below:

    I promised my YA writers that I'd start a Beta Project as soon as Sweet Adeline Regionals were over, and I love doing it around my birthday, so let's do this!

    This year, I'm setting up this thread a little differently. This here is a linky post, so that info is easier for you all to find, rather than wading through a single dense post. So here are the links, or just go to the next post (it's like a choose your own adventure).

    Links:
    What is the Beta Project all about?
    Eligibility and Timeline
    Formatting Your Entry!
    What's the difference between a beta and critique in this contest?
    Who can crit and who can beta?
    Entry Number vs Post Number


    Any questions or comments?

    Post 'em in this thread!

    All right, read the next few posts and then go get those manuscripts polished and entries together. Or if you're ready, you can PM me your entry now.
    Last edited by Sage; Yesterday at 07:52 PM.
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  2. #2
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    WHAT IS THE BETA PROJECT ALL ABOUT?

    The Beta Project is an attempt to pair AW members to the best beta reader for their novels. And if you don't know what a beta is, then this is the thread for you. Betas are invaluable resources for writers, pointing out the problems with characterization, plotting, descriptions, dialogue, and so. Some may be detailed and some may be more general. Usually, you'd discuss with your betas what kind of things you want them to look for, although that will not stop them from pointing out things you never even thought of as a problem.

    How does the Beta Project work?

    Each participant will submit a private message to me by Thursday, May 18, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. PDT (to PM me, click on my user name and select "Private Message"). This gives you almost 2 weeks to polish up your entries and finish up your novel if you were close to being done. You can submit unfinished manuscripts, and you can also submit short stories, non-fiction, poetry, screenplays, comic books, whatever you need a beta for. However, most of the past entries have been novels, and if only one or two others are entered this time, it may be difficult to find knowledgeable betas for you (so encourage others in your category to submit if you want to join with a non-novel). That said, one year we did have a set of short stories submitted, and it got a few requests.

    Personally, I prefer finished, polished mss to beta, but you absolutely can enter with an unfinished novel, and those have gotten requests in the past. Last year we had a lot of unfinished mss. Please do make sure that you note that information in your entry. If you have any other unusual beta requests, note those please too.

    On May 19, I will post the entries in the Beta Project Subforum 2. There they will be under the same protection as those excerpts posted in Share Your Work. The password is "testing." That's a great place to see examples of what the last Beta Project was like.

    The entries will be anonymous. Don't worry about it if you've posted about your manuscript elsewhere on AW and know that it might be recognizable, but we're hoping that beta offers come because your hook and first 3 pages catch the reader's attention, not because everyone loves you (you don't need the BP for that )

    I will assign everybody 3 entries to critique. This way everyone will get at least 3 critiques on their first 3 pages and maybe their hook and title too. Since the entries will be posted publicly, critiques may also come from people who were not assigned to you. The critiques will be anonymous as well, and will be sent to me via PM. I post them in the thread with its associated entry. That way, you can get critique experience without feeling pressured about what others might think, but the critiques will still be posted so that others can learn from them. And you'll be surprised how much you'll learn critiquing other people's work.

    These mandatory critiques are just on the 750-word sample from each entry. Entrants may request to beta other entries, but it is not a requirement.

    You will be given 2 weeks to critique the entries assigned to you. If you fail to PM me the critiques by 11:59 p.m. PDT, Thursday, June 1, I will withhold your critiques and beta offers. Don't make me do that. The critiques can be detailed if you wish, or they could just be a few constructive points. I will post all critiques on June 2 using the same formatting used when they were submitted to me. If I get all the mandatory critiques before then, I'll post them earlier.

    Everybody on AW can offer to beta or critique the entries, not just participants!

    If you see one or more entries that you wish to beta, PM me with the entry number(s) you liked, and I will share your name with the author(s) so that they can choose to contact you. But, don't worry, just because you were selected to critique an entry, you do not have to beta it unless you want to.

    In previous years, if someone had sent in their critiques early, I gave them the names of any beta requesters as they came in. I imagine I will continue that tradition this year. Betas may request at any time after the entries are posted.
    Last edited by Sage; 05-09-2017 at 05:55 PM. Reason: Updated dates
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  3. #3
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    ELIGIBILITY AND TIMELINE

    Eligibility

    The only requirement I make for entering is that you're a member in good standing as of today, April 28, 2017. There is no post requirement.

    Timeline (updated!)

    April 28: You must have joined Absolute Write by this date to participate.
    May 18: Due date for all entries
    May 19: After a sleepless night, Sage posts the entries in the Beta Project subforum 2 and sends out critique assignments
    June 1: Due date for all mandatory critiques
    June 2: Sage posts all critiques in the Beta Project subforum 2, unless she's already done so because all you awesome people already finished your mandatory crits

    More Timetable Notes

    All due dates end at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

    In the past there have been issues that have cropped up at the last second. Don't wait until 11:59 on the 11th to submit. I guarantee you will have problems if you do and will end up past the deadline.

    When I get your entry, I'll send you a "Got it" reply. If you don't receive one, make sure to check with me BEFORE the deadline (I say if it's been >2 days, check with me). Some folks have ended up out of genre order because their entries didn't go through and they didn't realize until after I put them up. This might have affected whether they got requests, since people might not have gone to there to find those genres.

    Also make sure your inbox is free for replies, whether it's beta requests, beta request responses, "got it," critique assignments, or whatever.
    Last edited by Sage; 05-03-2017 at 05:31 AM.
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  4. #4
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    FORMATTING YOUR ENTRY!

    Your PM should look a little something like this:

    Manuscript Title: Your current title or "untitled" if you prefer
    Manuscript Genre: This will help match you up to readers. Also add age category here, if applicable
    Manuscript Word Count: (or Current/Projected Word Count for unfinished mss)
    Is your manuscript finished?: Y/N
    Any trigger warnings? If you can think of anything that might trigger someone, please mention it here. This way you won't have to include it in other categories.

    Hook:

    150 words about your novel. It doesn't have to be a full query, and probably won't be with this word-count limit. But it's great practice for summarizing your novel in a way that will hook readers.

    First 750 words:

    In standard manuscript format (Courier New, 12 pt, double space), 750 words is about 3 pages. Find a spot short of that 750-word mark that makes for a good ending spot. You should submit to the Beta Project in normal AW format (Verdana with a space between paragraphs; it should look like this post when you preview it, as you should). Once upon a time, I went to entrants and worked with them to cut them down to 750 if they went over and wanted to save their excerpt's ending. This year, if you go over 750 words, I'll cut off as many of the last sentences as it takes to get to 750 in whatever word processor of mine is most generous (Word, Scrivener, or Pages), so you are warned! Do it before it gets to me if you want to save that last sentence! It's a great tightening exercise.

    What do you look for in a beta?

    About 100 words about what you're looking for. For example, I might say, "I'm looking for a beta who will point out those pesky plot holes I've been blind to and any characterization that doesn't work. My description can sometimes be lacking, so please tell me when I need more. And I'm nervous about the romance. Is it, well, romantic?" Last year some ridiculous person I absolutely don't know submitted book 3 in a trilogy, and this is where she discussed the potential betaing situation, so this can really just be anything you think a beta needs to know about what you want and need. You might want to mention if you're looking for an alpha rather than a beta here too.

    What genres do you read?

    This is so on the 12th I can spend my entire day matching you up to your preferred genres so everyone gets the best critters and crittees possible. Your preferences will not be posted. Also include if you like other categories, such as non-fiction, poetry, short stories, etc. just in case we get some non-novel entries. Tell me if there's anything you don't want to read (like no gratuitous sex or nothing about kittens, whatever) or anything that might trigger you.

    ---

    Other Notes on Formatting

    I mention standard ms formatting, but please send your entry to me like you'd post it in SYW in Verdana. I will preserve all formatting from the PMs you send me beyond font and the format given above, which will all match. Italics, bolding, underlines, and colors (in crits) will remain as you send them.

    Preview your entry. There's some copy & paste function that erased spaces between words for some entries last year. Make sure that's not you. I'm pretty sure that clicking that top lefthand button that looks like A/A until you are in "Source Mode" will fix this problem. You may have to manually put back in italics & bolding afterwards but that's easier than finding missing spaces! (Oh, hey, other suggestions for this problem can be found here) Either way, preview your entry.
    Last edited by Sage; 04-30-2017 at 07:27 AM. Reason: size 2 is no longer ideal
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  5. #5
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BETA AND A CRITIQUE IN THIS CONTEST?

    It's the most confusing part, I know.

    There are 2 ways to get feedback in this contest. One is via beta request. The other is via critique.

    Beta request: You read the entry, and, hot dog!, just have to read and give notes on the whole thing. I will pass your name on to the entrant privately, and they will contact you. I hope everyone gets at least one beta request, but it's not a guarantee.

    Critique: On May 19, I assign 3 entries for you to give feedback on the 750 words and maybe the hook, title, genre and/or word count. I will post these crits on June 2, and they will remain anonymous, unless the critters out themselves. Every entrant must do 3 critiques. Anyone can do more. Last year, every entry had more critiques than were assigned, but at minimum you will get three different crits on your entry. Although not as exciting as a beta request, getting feedback on your first pages is very helpful.

    Other Notes on Critting and Beta Requesting

    When it comes time to beta request, please tell me if you're requesting a beta swap instead. See this post (#96) on why: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/show...=1#post9417353

    Also if you're doing a critique on something you also want to beta, please make sure you note that you want to beta it. Sometimes we like things that we just can't beta because of time restraints or whatever, and it's not always clear. If it doesn't clearly state that you want to beta in your critique, I'm going to assume you don't.

    Please let me know if you have a critique partner who is also entering, so that I can get you feedback from 3 fresh pairs of eyes. You've already gotten feedback from your CP. Let me know before the entry deadline, because once I start the critter puzzle, it's hard to adjust.

    Any AWer can request to beta a novel! And anyone can send me a crit on any of the entries!
    Last edited by Sage; 05-09-2017 at 05:56 PM. Reason: Updated dates
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  6. #6
    Making Einstein cry since 1994 Maggie Maxwell's Avatar
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    Hot diggity, it's the Beta Project! Our Camp NaNo cabin was preaching the love earlier this month, so hopefully some of them will pop in and play. This is just what I need to push me to finish my latest draft, so perfect timing. Thanks as always for setting this up, Sage!
    The insane who believe they are sane are crazy. The sane who know they are insane are writers.

    The 2017 Beta Project - Signups open through May 18th

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  7. #7
    To be or not to be...how cliche :/ vicky271's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, my novel won't be ready in time. And i'm a terrible beta reader. But all the best! If this is running next year and my novel is ready for beta reading, i'll be entering ^^
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  8. #8
    Freshly caught writing bug lives! Netz's Avatar
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    Yay for the Beta Project!

    I entered last year with an unfinished ms and received invaluable feedback in my crits/beta reads*. I swapped beta reads with one AWer for the project and met up with her when I visited her country on holiday in October, so that was a great way to make a writerly connection.

    *Beta reading was done when the ms was finished, obviously - they didn't mind the wait.
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  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW Lauram6123's Avatar
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    Hell yes! I love the Beta Project! I'm in. Thanks for doing this again, Sage.

  10. #10
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    A lot of people do enter with unfinished mss. In fact, the two beta reads I've in 2017 were requests I made from 2015's BP. Just be up front about where you are on the project, so they know what to expect. I know some people choose to offer on unfinished mss because they don't have time right now, but expect to in a few months. Others might have time right now, but won't later, and will want to know if you're not 100% ready to go.
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Matt T.'s Avatar
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    Yep, I was one of the ones who entered with an unfinished mss last year, and I had pretty good luck with it and got two requests. My one piece of advice though to people thinking of doing the same would be to be conservative with your estimates for when the novel will be done... I thought I was closer to being done than I actually was, and a late and fairly difficult rewrite forced me to take longer than I expected.

  12. #12
    Born at sea Clairels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt T. View Post
    Yep, I was one of the ones who entered with an unfinished mss last year, and I had pretty good luck with it and got two requests. My one piece of advice though to people thinking of doing the same would be to be conservative with your estimates for when the novel will be done... I thought I was closer to being done than I actually was, and a late and fairly difficult rewrite forced me to take longer than I expected.
    I second this. I don't regret entering my unfinished/unrevised MS, because one of my betas agreed to read it section by section. But I still have, I think, 3 requests just left dangling, and since I'm the World's Slowest Writer (TM), they might be waiting for some time yet.

    In any case, I love the BP. Even though I can't enter this year, I'm excited to critique.

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  13. #13
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Aw, my Beta Project folder is feeling some love already
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW travelgal's Avatar
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    You mean Verdana size 12, yeah? I don't have size 2.

  15. #15
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Size 2 was on AW, but don't use it anymore, guys. In the old version, size 2 was this size right here. In this version, it may be size 3, but just don't worry about it. (I already corrected it in the Format post)

    It doesn't matter what your word processor uses. Use the usual AW font in your PM. The best way, really and truly, is to be in source mode and manually enter italics, bold, centering, etc., or to erase all formatting and manually enter italics, bold, centering, etc. And then preview.

    ETA: Also of note, I do make an effort to conform all entries in font and size and headings. If the formatting is an effect of the 750 words, I'll keep it, but if not, it will be formatted like everyone else's. All the headings will look like what I have in the Formatting post This is so the only thing people should be noticing is what you've actually written.
    Last edited by Sage; 04-30-2017 at 11:17 AM.
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW chompers's Avatar
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    Yay, it's the Beta Project! I really want to join, but something came up during Camp and I'm not sure I'll be able to participate this year. But maybe that's a good thing. I haven't even finished my manuscript from the last time I joined. :P

  17. #17
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    I have noticed that my version of Word is not as lenient as it has been in past years on word count. It now counts both words on either end of an em-dash as its own word (which is more accurate than before). This is great in NaNoWriMo, but not so much when you're sending me what you think is 150 or 750 words because that's what your program said, and mine all say you're over.

    So if your version of Word or other word processor counts those as a single word, make sure to count up your em-dashes and add them to the total Word is giving you. Hyphenated words are still counted as one in my version of Word (as two in Scrivener and Pages).
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW Morri's Avatar
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    I really want to join because I've always been interested in the BP, and even though I finally feel like I have something worth sharing, I'm not even at the halfway point with it yet.

    I'll be happy to critique, though. I love reading all the entries!

  19. #19
    Fragile Bunny Damoclian's Avatar
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    *the nervous muttering of a madman* I did size 2 on AW in my sub... Was that bad? You have no clue how often I hit the preview button! I think it's as it is supposed to be. If it isn't, I will be happy to do anything to reduce any inconvenience I have caused.

    Oh and thanks for all you do, Sage!!
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  20. #20
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Damoclian View Post
    *the nervous muttering of a madman* I did size 2 on AW in my sub... Was that bad? You have no clue how often I hit the preview button! I think it's as it is supposed to be. If it isn't, I will be happy to do anything to reduce any inconvenience I have caused
    I took care of it for you, Damoclian. You were my reminder that size 2 didn't work anymore, but you were totally following instructions, so don't feel bad

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW SciSarahTops's Avatar
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    Ooh, this sounds fab.

    Just so I understand you match us up according to the sample pages AND beta readers wanted and then as we crit we must specify if we want to take it further. After that you un-anonymise us, set us up together and the rest happens under our own steam?

    Can we have some samples of the 150 word summaries? Given my horrendous efforts in QLH I would appreciate a little guidance. I'm far less nervous of my 750 word sample since I've reworked and had had it beta'd since before the dawn of time....
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  22. #22
    permanently suctioned to Buz's leg Putputt's Avatar
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    Aaaaaa is it that time of the year already? Thanks for running this project, Sage! I might dig up something I wrote for Camp Nano last year... aaaa, this is so exciting!
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  23. #23
    Democracy Dies in Darkness Marlys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SciSarahTops View Post
    Can we have some samples of the 150 word summaries?
    Dozens of them here (link from Sage's post above).
    I'm a twit, too: @PearsonMarlys

  24. #24
    I am Groot AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SciSarahTops View Post
    Ooh, this sounds fab.

    Just so I understand you match us up according to the sample pages AND beta readers wanted and then as we crit we must specify if we want to take it further. After that you un-anonymise us, set us up together and the rest happens under our own steam?

    Can we have some samples of the 150 word summaries? Given my horrendous efforts in QLH I would appreciate a little guidance. I'm far less nervous of my 750 word sample since I've reworked and had had it beta'd since before the dawn of time....
    Sure, all the examples you could want (as long as you don't want more than 79) can be found here. The password is "testing"

    I use the "What genres do you read?" section to try and match you up as much as possible to entries that you would like. Genres you read will probably be the best for you to crit, since you know them, and a more fun experience critting. I personally don't do anything with the "What do you look for in a beta?" section because my matching is all about critting, not betaing. If you want to beta beyond the three pages, that's great. If you don't, that's great too. If you want to beta something else, that's awesome. If you don't want to beta anything, that's totally okay. Betas can be entrants or not, and entrants can be betas or not. All entrants will critique 3 entries. They can crit more than that, and non-entrants can also crit.

    All entries and critiques will remain anonymous, unless the author or critter outs themselves after everything's posted on the 2nd. Beta offers of any kind will be sent directly to the entrant and they will be given the option to contact the requester themselves
    Last edited by Sage; 05-09-2017 at 05:58 PM. Reason: Updated dates
    It's Beta Project time!
    Looking to beta but want more information before committing?
    Dying to work on your critting skills, particularly in an anonymous setting?
    Come check out the Beta Project Entries (password: testing) and send crits and beta requests through me.


    I am the prince of Winter. My heart is of ice.
    And he's been slowly melting it for years.




  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW Ambrosia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage View Post
    You might want to mention if you're looking for an alpha rather than a beta here too.
    Until this very moment, I had always wondered why alpha was skipped for beta. Now I see it wasn't. I haven't come across the reference to an alpha reader before. Could you tell me the difference?

    I am seriously considering entering the BP as I have just finished the editing of the draft of my first novel and I am going to be looking for betas. The timing couldn't be better. I'm nervous about my ability critiquing prose. I've critiqued a lot of poetry, but only a little prose. It helps it will be anonymous because if I make a mess of it, I won't have my name attached. Learning curves, gotta love them.

    I'm also nervous about writing the hook. Time to go study how others did it if I intend to enter this project.
    ..
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