Tag Archives: beta readers

A Writer’s Christmas Wish List

Anna_Brassey_woman-writing_web

Okay, so it’s been a while since I’ve shared what I’m up to. Am I claiming that I was too busy to blog? Bad CB! No cookie!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been doing, at least in the writing department:

  • I did NaNoWriMo again this year, and got my 50,000 words. I’m not done yet; still working on the exciting climax. You know how it is with ballerinas who are suddenly infected with lycanthropy; they have some serious issues.
  • I finally have my previous novel—a historical fantasy set in 1870s Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska—more or less ready for alpha readers. I hope to have a beta version by spring.
  • I’ve continued submitting short stories to magazines. No acceptances yet, but I made at least editor’s one short list. Still waiting to see how that turns out.
  • And…I’ve decided to apply to some workshops. I’m talking the serious sci-fi/ fantasy workshops where you have to send a writing sample, spend a chunk of money and 1-6 weeks of your life learning whether or not you have what it takes to get your short stories and novels traditionally published. Think workshops like Clarion, Clarion West, Odyssey, Taos Toolbox, and Viable Paradise.

So here’s what I want for Christmas. (You don’t really have to get me anything…)

Help I need in December/January:

  • Read what I what I think are my best short stories (about 20K words total), and vote for your favorite 2 or 3; if you’ve successfully applied to one of the workshops mentioned above tell me which of those stories you think might get me into a competitive workshop
  • Tell me how you got into Clarion, Clarion West, Odyssey, Taos Toolbox, Viable Paradise. Gory details? Trials and tribulations? I’m all over whatever you want to share. If you’re willing to point me to anything you’ve written on the subject of applying to or attending a competitive workshop—or if you’re willing to exchange emails/chat about the experience— I can’t tell you how much I’d love to hear from you.
  • Give me tips on writing an essay about myself that would persuade anyone to give me a shot at one of these workshops. Or read mine (once I’ve written it) and tell me how to make it more convincing.
  • Alpha read my western fantasy novel (about 100K words). This means reading the story and just giving me general impressions, but no need to heavily edit.

Help I may need in March/April

  • Alpha read my novel about the werewolf ballerina (not finished yet, but I think it will be about 100K words)

Help I may need in May/June

  • Beta read my western fantasy. This would happen after alpha readers have checked it out. Most of the major flaws should already be dealt with. You’d be spotting continuity  and other errors, helping me make it read better, stuff like that.

If you’re able to help with any of my above wishes, please comment below or message me via Facebook/ Twitter/Google. And let me know if you need a similar Christmas present…

NaNoWriMo 2015

Print

November, aka National Novel Writing Month, has come and gone. This time around, I was what they call a NaNo rebel. I’ve been meaning to work on short story writing for a while, and the stars just aligned this time around so that I wasn’t ready to work on a new novel. However, I could see outlining some stories and at least getting a start on them.

I called this effort #30Stories30Days, and will share more on how it went later. Most likely this sharing will come accompanied with begging for beta readers. If you’re willing to help me in this way, please comment (either below, on Facebook, G+,Twitter, or whichever way you find easiest) to let me know and we’ll figure out how to make it work.

Officially, I “won.” That is, I got my word count and then some. Final tally came in at 68,075.

So there’s this Magical Medicine Show…now what?

Anna_Brassey_woman-writing_web
One can work in one’s peignoir

The lovely people at National Novel Writing Month are pushing a new thing, or at least a thing I don’t remember them being as pushy about in previous years. Now that we’ve all written a novel, they’re all about making it good. And because I’m into the whole “Show Your Work” movement, you get to read about how I’m going about making it good.

NaNoWriMo works for me because of the combination of deadlines and the group solidarity. In the past, I either haven’t had a novel with any potential, or I didn’t want to go through the scary, scary revision process all on my own. Luckily, one of my writing peeps, KatherineWriting is leading an editing path as an activity of our local writing group, The Writing Journey. She’s all about deadlines and group solidarity. This past week, those of us who are participating received an email with this request from her:
Please post a brief blurb about what you’re planning to do for the Editing Path. (Often it helps people achieve their goals if they write them down.)

  • Where are you starting? It doesn’t have to be chapter one.
  • What do you intend to do first? Quick overview changes, detailed line by line, or ?
  • How much do you hope to get done in February? How many chapters per week?

Here are my answers.

Where am I starting?

Pretty close to the beginning. I spent December and the beginning of January going through the novel I drafted in November of 2012 and November of 2013. I smooshed the two drafts together and attempted to remove extraneous character, scenes, etc. I’ve been looking at the first section with mixed feelings of dismay and delight, mucking around in it a bit. Time to stick a fork in it and move on.

What am I doing first?

I’d like to get it to pass the sniff test—making sure it doesn’t stink. Shall I count the ways in which it might stink? That will take too long. The least painful way to ease in will probably be to:

  1. Fill in the blanks. I have some bracketed and/or highlighted text which might denote a missing character name, location or some specific research detail. So fix those bits.   
  2. Make sure I buy the character motivations. I remember a few of them as needing work.   
  3. Remove overwriting and redundancies. Repetitive redundancies. You know, where you say things more than once even though the reader got it the first time.
  4. If I have any time after that, I’d like to fill in specific sensory details. More showing, less telling. Not so much white room syndrome. All that good stuff.

How much do I hope to get done in February?

I would dearly love to get the novel in good enough shape to share with beta readers (alpha readers?) by the beginning of March. Or by March 14 at the latest. It’s not exactly in chapters, more like scenes or sections. A March 1 deadline would mean about one section (averaging 4500 words) per day; I’m not sure I can do that in three hours, let alone one. I may or may not have the damned thing* ready by May. Though of course if I feel I’m on the right track, I can always start sharing chapters before I’m all the way through. That’s probably what I’ll end up doing. If you like being of service to your fellow man (or woman in this case) watch this space for requests for beta readers.

*Sorry. I didn’t mean “damned thing.” I meant “my wonderful, exciting novel about which I’m passionate.”