A Beta-Readers Experience

Before last year, I had never read someone elses novel in an unpolished state!

To be honest, I hadn’t really met any other writers who wrote novels, so, all in all, the whole of last year – writer community wise – was a first for me, but that’s another post for another day!

I’ve always been the one who my friends look to, to look over their work. I can be quite a good proofreader when I try, and pair that with a love of reading books, and helping out my fellow writers, I think beta-reading just appealed to me in a way I’d never expected it too!

The first time I beta-read – a retelling of both ‘The Little Mermaid’ & ‘Cinderella’ called ‘Melody’ by Penny Kearney (which should be out sometime this year) – I feel like I came up short a little if I’m honest. I wasn’t completely sure what I was doing, and, although, I answered all of the questions – and highlighted a few flow problems – I liked it too much to say anything bad about it!

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If I looked back at it now, now I’ve sort of realised what my role actually is, I’m sure I’d find characters that need a bit more development, and maybe some more sections that didn’t make all that much sense, but, you have to start somewhere, right?

The next novel I got to beta-read was by someone I met whilst doing my #LetsWriteNaNoWriMo challenge! During the challenge, I learned all about the novel that ‘Andrew Henley’ was editing – called Hayley Soon – and when it came around to him needed beta-readers, I knew I had to take the plunge and see what it was all about!

I didn’t have a clue what to expect – not really – but I’m so glad I answered that question in his comments section! With Hayley Soon, I feel like I was able to give a lot more, and with my feedback, I just sort of ‘let loose’ a little and I’d question this and that, and I can be sarcastic as hell sometimes – which doesn’t come off too great in text – but I feel like I was actually able to help in that development, you know?

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And, I think, as you read more manuscripts, as you read more books, you do get better.

Much like writing!

And, I think, as a writer, you give something different to beta-reading than you would if you were just a reader, you know!

The next one I got to read was the first 20,000 words of an epic fantasy, and like Hayley Soon, I had my thoughts and opinions down. I knew what it was I should be looking out for, you know?

And I don’t think you can teach it to people, the more you do it, I think, the better you become. Practice makes perfect and all that, you know?

At the start of this 2018, I got to beta-read two more in January, one was about a cannibal, which was an experience in itself! And the second was from a total stranger.

You see. I had a message through instagram; this person asking me if I’d like to beta-read their book, and, after telling me what it was about and all that, I said yes.

It’s very unique, this manuscript, it’s a contemporary that looks at some very delicate aspects in the western world right now. It’s definitely going to make people think – and it’s definitely going to be one of those that people either love or they hate.

I love it, and Z, if you’re reading this, I’m still waiting for that chapter!

At the moment, I’m reading another fantasy – which is more nordic and viking like called Whispers of Savage Song by Ashley Earley and I have another Andrew Henley manuscript waiting in the docks called MIRI!

And, you know the best thing about this whole experience is when you see the books you beta-read get published! You were apart of something that means the world to someone.

Andrew Henleys ‘Hayley Soon‘ and Allen Dark’s cannibalistic novel ‘The Black Heart‘ can now both be found on Amazon, and I encourage you to go read them both! Completely different, but completely worth it!

And, until next time guys,

Just Keep Reading (Or even better; beta-reading),

Jade x

Busy Minds, Hectic Shifts, Changing Schedules and Editing

This week, I broke my blog post Monday rule… I know it doesn’t really matter, but I just liked the regularity of it. I liked thinking there was something new on my blog on a Monday morning! It’s the start of the week for most people, and I enjoyed having something up and posted and maybe making at least one person feel a bit more inspired, or motivated. Or anything.

But, as always, life get’s in the way.

This last month has been hectic for me. My nights off from work never stayed the same, and at one point, I went a whole two weeks without a night off. I know it’s not terrible, but it’s night shifts, and even though I’ve been working there for more than six months now, my body hates sleeping in the day time sooo much, and it makes me feel terrible if I sleep past ten o clock. Even if I get to sleep at seven! And, man, if I have a nap during the day, I turn in to a monster!

It all just leads up to the conclusion that I’ve had no real motivation to write up a blog post; even though I have the ideas for it. My mind is so busy, but so tired at the same time that it’s just took a back seat.

What, fortunately I didn’t lose motivation for, was the ‘looking over’ of my fist manuscript. I’m just tweaking it here and there, making sure the characters sounds like they should, and that it’s all ready to follow in to the next one. Although, it’s mad how I keep finding silly mistakes in my writing.

The long nights shifts have given me more time to think though, to think about the history of the world, of what the characters will go through, how the characters will cope, how the story ends. It’s good thinking time, but someday, I’ve found that by the end of the night, my mind has clouded over and it starts to dissipate in to nothing! This is when I have to rush home and write it all in my notebook before I collapse my achy self in to bed!

All of this, no matter how much I love my blog post Mondays, means that for the time being, my regular weekly posts will be on a Wednesday morning! It’s my day off, and I’ll have no excuse not to post. (Unless certain work colleagues decide they can afford to not show up to work!)

Also, the end of this month is a busy one for me! I am going to the wedding of my university friend, and I can’t wait to see everyone. And, I also get a new little writing companion called Albert! And then, next month, I have a whole week off! (Praise the Lord) Whether I get any writing done is a whole different ball game, but if anything, I’ll make sure to steal a few moments here and there!

Just keep writing guys…

Or keep doing what you love…

There isn’t enough time not too!

When Do You Know Your Novel Is Finished?

This blog post is a bit late. Oops
However, the title of it explains the reason why quite simply. Oops again.

The hardest part of writing a novel is knowing when to stop. When is it ready for the world; For the agents and the publishers your itching to send it too; When have you finished what you set out to do.

The simple answer is the worst answer ever: Never.

No matter how much time you put in to a manuscript, how much world building and character building and editing you do, no matter how many times you rewrite, it is never going to be perfect. In an instagram post, I said that knowing when to stop was the hardest thing, but you have to do it sometime. I may need to learn to practice what I preach…

I’ve recently started on my second book, and I found it so easy to write the way I wanted it to go that I almost panicked a little, worried that I wasn’t portraying the characters correctly. It made me go back, to re-read it, and after convincing myself that re-writing wasn’t the answer, I decided to edit it one last time.

I realised that it was something else bothering me as well. The basis of my story focuses on prophecies, prophecies I weren’t sure worked, but during the night, when I work, I have loads of times to think about it (and doubt myself), and it’s when I realised that I had all the elements there and I just had to put it in to words. It fitted with everything that had happened, everything that’s going to happen and something I was even unsure about.

So, about fifteen thousand more words later, I think I need to send it away before I ruin it.

I still want to rewrite the whole thing, but it’s only because I worry others won’t love it like I do. But! This month, I am sending it away. I poured my heart in to this book and hopefully, even if they think it’s terrible, they can see that.

So, when do you know your novel is finished? You don’t. I’m sure that even published writers have things they wished they’d changed, even J.K Rowling wishes she’d shipped Hermione with Harry rather than Ron. So, just know, that even the writers you look up to still regret things they’ve written, even when it’s been published for nearly twenty years!

So, once you finished it, send it. You may get a load of rejections, but you may just get a letter saying they want to see more of the world you created!

Just keep writing… Or don’t, you know what I mean…