Tag Archives: beta read

Lesson One from the Gold Mine Manuscript Mark-Up: Write Without Looking

For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?

Gold_Mine_ManuscriptHow many times do your characters look at something?  Mine do.  All the time.  I never thought it was a problem.  I feel really bad now, because I am the
“Show Vs. Tell Barracuda”, and I absolutely missed this…

If you say your character looks at something, you are telling the reader that they “look”.  Show the reader instead.

Example:  The wind blew cold, and Magellan looked up into the trees.  The branches bent and shook over his head.

Now, I honestly would not think this was telly, because I showed you what he was seeing right afterward.  My writing partner did the same thing in her manuscript.  The publisher highlighted the “looked” and said “rather than telling us what he is doing, show us what he sees instead.”

Suggested rewrite:  The wind blew cold, and Magellan pulled his jacket closer.  The branches bent and shook over his head.

Here, I took out the offensive “looked” kept the characterization by giving Magellan something to do (pulling his jacket closer), which gives me a place to mention his name.  (In case it’s needed)   I left the “what he saw” exactly the way it was originally written.  You can assume he looked up.  The whole scene actually flows better, and all I did was take a moment to pull out the word “look”.

Even better for you word count barracudas out there… count ‘em… there is one less word in the corrected example.  Yea for me!

Here’s another easy one:  He ran down the hall and looked at the dark stone walls.  The sconces were still lit and the light danced across the ceiling.

Easy fix:  He ran down the dark stone hallway.  The sconces were still lit and their light danced across the ceiling.

Now, I’ll be honest… This is not always this easy.  I’ve growled a little over some of these.  But I am going to try my best to take all of the “looks” out of my novel, unless they are in a personal thought… but I will be looking at those pretty closely as well.

Honestly, I emailed my friend yesterday on this, and she said she’s only taken out “most” of the looks.  Once in a while, your characters will have to “look”.  I am finding the same thing.  But I am finding that a lot of them can be removed easily like the ones above.  (We also discussed that we’ve read published novels that have “looks” in them.  yes, we know they exist… I’m just letting you know there is a publisher out there that redlined it and asked for a revision.)

I am finding I am taking out all of the “looking” that is being done by a POV character, and leaving some of the looks that are not from the POV character.
For instance, if another character in the room (not the POV character)
looks over at the door, you are not going to tell what they see, because you are not in their POV.  Therefore, it might to be okay to leave that look in there.
However, I do not let the POV character look up and see that the other character is looking at the door.  Does that make sense?

This, by the way, is just my opinion.  If I submit, and get slapped for these “looks” I will let you know ASAP.

If you can, get rid of any and all looking, because this publisher emphatically flagged it.  Only look as a last resort.

Hope you found this helpful!

Related Articles:http://kristinastanley.net/2011/09/01/listening-to-your-novel/


Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop #4


Oh Yeah!  It’s the  Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop!

In this hop, participants post 250 words of their work in progress to be critiqued.  Then everyone hops around to critique others.  Don’t have a post of your own?  We’d love a critique anyway!  And next time you can sign up yourself (see below)

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Okay… Here’s mine.  This is 250 words of my YA Urban Fantasy: “Fire in the Woods”.  Right before this scene, our MC Jess runs into the woods chasing a deer. (That is the”buck” mentioned in the last line) Then all of the sudden…

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A screeching noise filled the forest, swirling like a smoke alarm gone haywire.  A hollow hum developed behind the squawking invasion as a jolt of stabbing pain tore into my brain.  I slammed my hands against my ears, but I couldn’t fight the drills boring inside me. Head pounding, I cried out in agony, but I my own voice fell victim to the onslaught of vibrations exploding through my cranium.

I dropped to my knees.  “Please stop!  Make it stop!”

The squalling reverberated, encompassing everything.  Tears pooled in my eyes, blurring my vision before trailing down my cheeks. I cried out in misery, until it stopped abruptly.

I shook, reeling from the sudden silence.  A faint hum lingered, a frightening reminder of the noise’s intensity.  Hands still covering my ears, I sucked in a careful, short breath and slowly dared another.  Holding as still as possible, I braced for another auditory attack, and thanked the Lord when it didn’t come. I scanned the trees, at a loss as to what could have made such a noise.

Sobbing, I blinked back fresh tears, and wiped my cheek clean.  A leaf fell to the ground at my feet, but the rest of the forest remained motionless.  The chirping birds had vanished. Nothing stirred to disrupt the eerie quiet—not even a gentle rustle of the wind.

I spun, startled by a thrash behind a large fallen tree.  Ignoring the instinct to flee like the buck, I inched forward and peeked over the log.

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The Sunday Snippets Critique Blog Hop is on!

Want to join up? Click here for the rules, and leave a comment to have your name added to the list.  The more the merrier!swish swivel squiggle 2

Click on over to these great writers to check out and critique what they’ve posted!

Note:  Those who have not been participating have been removed.












Do you know something about the military? Calling all Beta readers or “Wanna-be” Beta readers

I am searching for a few good men, or women, or teenagers who have knowledge of the military and how it works, and/ or live on or grew up on a military base in the USA.

I am going to openly admit that I’m writing fiction that has a lot of military activity in it, and I am taking a lot of wild guesses since my father never talked about the service AT ALL.

I’m looking for a few people who know more than I do who can take a look at my novel and say “Yeah, that’s possible” or “No, you are completely off your rocker… that would never happen in a zillion years.”

In a nutshell, I don’t want to ruin what I think is a pretty good story because of my lack of military knowledge.

The novel is Fire in the Woods — a sci-fi based in New Jersey on the East Coast of the USA.  It starts off at McGuire Air Force Base, and then runs through several South Jersey locations.  The target audience is YA (teen) girls, although there is a strong male character at her side that I think will appeal to everyone.

I have visited each location and mapped out the story.  Now I just need to know if I have to change any character’s military ranks/titles/positions, or embellish/change things to make it at least somewhat plausible.

If you’ve never done a beta read before, and know about the military, that’s fine.  I have people who can smack me around for writerly-mistakes.  I just need a few “military content editors”.

When completed, I expect it to be 50,000 words (200 pages).  I would need it read and critiqued within 30 days of starting it. (That’s about seven pages a day.  Easy breezy)

I will most likely send it in 50 page sections (One week per section) so I can work on your comments for one section while you are reading the second.

Please let me know if you are interested.

If you have a bad day, don’t take it out on your beta-read

First of all, I am sorry for posting three days in a row.  I try to stick to my Monday-Thursday schedule to make sure my content is meaningful, and I certainly don’t want to get annoying.

At the moment though, I really feel the need to VENT!

Never, ever EVER is it excusable to take out your frustrations on a beta read you are doing for someone.  Did you get that ?  N-E-V-E-R.

Rather than re-typing how I feel about this, I am pasting below what I just wrote back in response to a blog post made by Jenny Keller Ford.  Read below, and then click on the link to jump over to Jenny’s blog and give her a big hug.

Ugh.  That review broke my heart.  I am a big believer in “say something nice, then the bad, but end it on a good note.  Being outright mean is something completely different, and that sounds like what happened.  There is something nice you can say about anyone. 

Ummm… you spelled everything right, and that was great!  Yay!  Love your spelling!

I have to admit, that I am brutally honest, but I do try to wrap it up with a kiss as much as possible, and I have NEVER told someone anything was Cr*p.  I am a firm believer that everyone is in a different place in their journey, and you can learn and evolve every day of your life.  Every story has potential… even if you don’t particularly like it.  If you don’t like something, at least say why.  Don’t just write it off as junk.

The problem with the internet, and email, is that you can totally trash the person, and not see the look on their face.  I am sure he would have been somewhat more tactful if he was looking right at you.

In all honesty, a beta who trashes, and does not give any suggestions is not a beta at all.  I would not even consider going back to them.  Now, that is not because they were harsh.  I have a few harsh critiquers that I always go back to… because they are honest, and they are helpful, and they point out things I need to work on.  Without them, I would not be the writer I am today.  It sounds like this critique gave no value other than to make you feel bad.  That is not constructive at all. 

Dust off your heels.  Think over what they said, and edit where you see fit… but don’t take this as a do-all “suddenly I stink and will for the rest of my life” review.

Just think.  In a few years when you hit Amazon’s top 100 list, you will just look back on this and giggle.

Remember to jump over to Jenny’s blog and give her a cyber hug.  She has a great story, and needs a little uplifting right now.