Friday, January 14, 2011

Talking with a Friend

I just finished a phone call with a fellow writer. She and I are both history lovers. We're both working on novels taking place along the Oregon Trail. Hers takes place in 1843, mine in 1845. Maybe I'll figure out a way for her Kate to meet my Rebecca at the end of the trail.

Christi Corbett's blog is a must see. A must read. The link is When her book is published I think I'll fly from Oklahoma to Oregon just to have her autograph a copy for me in person.

Twice today I read the term "beta reader" in posts on an online class I'm taking. You might think everyone should know the term. I didn't. Actually, I stressed out over the fact that I might have to get some new sort of computerized, robotic machine. According to the posts I read a Beta Reader is a must have.

Dollar signs and dunce caps flashed through my mind.

I asked Christi about a Beta Reader!!!

Come to find out it's an invaluable PERSON who reads our work. Someone who proofreads and critiques and comments . . .

No heart attacks for me today. But, I must find a Beta Reader. Any takers?

Look for regular posts every Wednesday. And, a writing challenge every Friday . . .


Maeve said...

Hi Nona! I've been wondering the exact same thing - where does one find a beta reader? If you find a good source, let me know - would you? Take care and have a great weekend! :-)

Judie Brunson said...

Hi Nona...I always enjoy your post. Beta reader is a new one for me too.

Jess said...

Hi Nona, good post. When I first heard the term 'beta reader' I didn't know what it meant either. I've always asked another writer to read my finished product--just never called her a beta. :) These days there's a name for everything.

Here's a blogpost by an agent who doesn't want to know about our betas. Thought I'd pass this along.

Mindy Blanchard said...

Hey Nona. I've never heard of that term but I've been out of the writing loop this past year. Good luck I wish I weren't so scatterbrained and could signup to be your beta reader because your writing is amazing and I love reading it. When life slows down we'll see about this. hugs and love. Min

Janet K Brown said...

I never heard of it. I'll have to think that one over. If we RRRW gals start critiquing, maybe you'll find one in our bunch.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Hey Nona, I skipped over to visit your blog. Very nice! One other thing I've heard about selecting a beta-reader is to find someone who isn't a writer so they don't get hung-up on the so called 'Rules.'

Winona said...

Great comments. I don't feel quite so out of the loop. I'll find a beta reader. Dawn may have the best idea to simply find someone who loves to read.

Alicia Dean said...

Hi Winona,

Great post. Beta readers are very helpful once the book is finished. They're different from critique partners. And, it's very good advice to find someone who's not a writer. You have to be careful to make sure they understand you want to hear if something's not right with your book and you're not just looking for praise. :-) I haven't yet used a beta reader but would like to for my latest book. I'll also be on the hunt. Good luck!

De'on Miller said...
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De'on Miller said...

I think it is a must for someone else to read your work. As writers we are too close to our story (especially in memoir), but also in fiction, because often enough fiction comes partly from our own stories. Have we made clear enough just who Uncle Fred is? Or have we treated our readers as "dumb" and have repeatedly explained he is our Uncle by marriage?

I read one book that was a bestseller and the story was a great story, but I think mostly because of the story, not so much the writing. I didn't have to be told over and over how depressed he was. Show it to me a couple of times and I get it, you know?

In school, I trained my husband to be a reader for me, and had him read aloud (something we should all do before even passing it on to another is read the work out loud so we know right off if a sentence is too cumbersome, etc.)

I'll have to check out the link Jess listed, and I totally agree with what Alicia said.

Personally, I think both a writer and someone who just loves to read should do a reading for us.

If a "reader" likes it, that's who we're after, the readers. But if breaking too many of the rules is a problem for us, it's not going anywhere. Know what I mean?

All that being said, and I know I'm not part of your writing group, and I probably am not well versed in the history of the state enough, but I do love to read, I feel I know what works and what doesn't, and I will be honest. AND I WILL READ IT IF YOU'D LIKE.

Your critique for me on just that small prologue was perfect. Not only were you honest in what I should get rid of, you were very encouraging in what worked.

I'd be glad to do the same for you if you trust me, my skills, etc.

I am back to spending some time at night reading, not just my work, but that of others. I have to take breaks from me!

You could email me chapters at a time as you're ready. I may have to the critique by mail, as I am not handy on the new version of Word, as far as the editing, etc, and frankly, when I've gotten something back with red lines within it on the computer, I'm lost and just keep looking at the red lines. They're like the green and red squigglies on spell check, etc. and truly just get on my nerves! lol!

De'on Miller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
De'on Miller said...

And you may be able to tell I'm also dumb at pushing buttons! I'd posted the comment 3 times! lol!

Anonymous said...


See, I told you we weren't the only ones who didn't know what Beta Reader meant :)

It was fantastic talking with you the other day! I had so much fun listening to your upcoming stories.

Thanks for putting up such a lovely blog post about're a great writing friend!

Christi Corbett

De'on Miller said...

The more I thought about it Winona, I think you should find a reader who works within your genre. I know fiction has many rules that don't exist in memoir, and although I am familiar with the narrative arc of fiction in general, I imagine historical fiction has some rules and elements of its own. Good luck and I look forward to purchasing and reading it one day!

Pat McDermott said...

Hi Nona. I just saw the new "True Grit" and forgot how much I love westerns. Looking forward to your Oregon Trail story. As for Beta Readers, I'd be lost without mine. Between my writers' group and my writing class, I have folks critiquing my work all the time, but when a story is finished, I need someone who hasn't ever seen it to read it from start to finish and give me an overall impression. Fortunately, I have a friend who no longer writes but loves to read, and he has read a few of my manuscripts before I sent them off. He not only catches those last pesky typos, he gives me feedback on my male characters. And, I just found myself a thirteen-year-old book lover, a young lady who graciously read my first young adult story (and loved it!). She's the daughter of a neighbor, and I can't help wondering if we have a budding novelist on our hands. Meet with other writers. You should find Beta Readers somewhere in the network. Best of luck!