Monday, November 7, 2016

TIMELESS BLOG TOUR

Guess who's visiting  us today. Yes, you're right, the fabulous Crystal Collier has some great tips for us, along with her beautiful new book, TIMELESS. Sit back, relax with your favorite drink, and cheese, of course, and enjoy.

6 Tips for Becoming a Beta Reading PRO



Welcome Crystal Collier here today to share her new book and some beta reading tips!


In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

GUEST POST


Thank you Beverly for having me here today!



You have a friend who is so excited. They wrote their first book and now they want you to read it. You really like this person, so you agree to peruse the manuscript, certain it will be literary gold.





Let me explain something.



ANY book in its early stages is a MESS. Shall I repeat that? ANY BOOK. (I don't care if it was written by Shakespeare himself!)



Now the problem is, your friend may not understand their book is a train wreck, and you may not want to be the one to tell them. (Ugh. Friendship is so complicated!) So what do you do?



YOU TELL THEM.



First of all, because you care about this person, you must be invested in their success. They won't succeed if you say, "Yeah, it was great!" when inside you're cringing. That isn't real friendship. If my fly is down or there something between my teeth, a real friend will tell me.

1. How do you tell them?


What the writer wants to hear is your reactions in real time. Your gut reactions. They may not like your reactions. They may not be pretty, but they must be told. Did you laugh out loud? Tell them. Did you smile? Tell them. Did you scratch your head? Yawn? Want to punch the character in the throat? That's right, tell them--right in the document where you have the reaction.



An example of AWESOME critiquing:



(This is an actual critique from an actual critique partner. Click to enlarge.)
You notice, this critique partner isn't afraid of marking up the draft. YOU CAN'T LEAVE TOO MUCH FEEDBACK. If the author had a running monologue of what you were thinking the entire time you read, they couldn't be more satisfied.



2. State things tactfully.


You're not there to rip. Remember, this is your friend. Tell them you really don't like what this character did or said, or you don't believe this character would do this based on X, Y, and Z. Comments like "That sucked" don't tell the writer WHY it caused you a problem. Maybe you don't really know, but a dedicated beta reader will at least attempt to figure it out.





3. Ask questions.


Questions are the MOST powerful tool. If you have a question about what's happening in the scene, ask. The writer wants to know you were wondering. We're always so quick to offer advice, but often the best way to deal with an issue is to propose it in a question. Then you don't have to be the bad guy.



4. Review your thoughts.

I often find I will have a reaction and begin asking questions, only to read a couple pages on and find an answer. If I'm being a good beta reader that day, I'll go back and add that I came back from page # and understand now.



5. Give the writer what they ask for.


You're not being paid to edit their work, so don't. If there's a missing word or the wrong homophone, definitely correct them. If you want to change the structure of a sentence, don't. Tell them the sentence was awkward, you had to reread it a few times, or that you had a hard time following the train of thought. Suggestions for how to change it are usually welcomed, but actual editing? No.



6. Positive affirmations


I can't emphasize this enough. You'll tell the writer plenty where they're going wrong, but be sure you tell them when they got it right too. My husband, though I love him to death, is still learning how necessary this is. He wants to get right in and gut the problems. (Who doesn't?) It may take concerted effort to pause and share the good, but make sure you do. (He is much better at this than he used to be. I've trained him. ;)




Now go buy my books--because you have to see what a properly beta read book looks like, eh?



Have you beta read for someone before? What tips do you have about beta reading? 


Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.




(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)



This is great. Thank you, Crystal. I'm saving your tips for future reference.
 
Happy Reading!

27 comments:

  1. I've become better at being a critique partner. At first, I was too afraid to tell someone what was really wrong. But now I know how point out what isn't working with tact.

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    1. Exactly! If only there was a quick, painless way to learn that lesson, eh?

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  2. Yes, feedback can be a simple LOL at something that made you laugh. The writer needs to know both what is working and what isn't.

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  3. Great post, Beverly! Thanks for sharing these tips.

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    1. Thanks, Karin. I'm going to keep a copy of them to remind me when I'm critiquing a manuscript.

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  4. I usually add humor to my responses a bit where I can, find it softens the blow a bit. But if something is meh, I sure let them know.

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    1. Definitely. Humor is the only way to go.

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    2. You're so kind, Pat, and have a great sense of humor too.

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  5. Thank you for visiting my blog today, Crystal, and for your great tips. They help me.

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    1. Thank you for having me, Beverly. You are too kind!

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  6. I've definitely gotten better at betareading--it helped seeing how others did it. I also like to see and add notes about where I think I figured something out and then where I found out I got it wrong but loved it or got it right and did a happy dance or whatever. I think that helps the author know they are on track (or not).

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    1. Agreed! My editor does that too so you're definitely on the right track.

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  7. Fabulous advice Crystal! Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Feedback is hard to give and sometimes hard to receive. My group has been together for years and we trust each other, so when I read something like "This doesn't make sense." I know it doesn't make sense.

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    1. I hear you! I have a group like that as well. It's nice to have that kind of support.

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  9. Thank you for visiting my blog Crystal, and thank you for the offer... Wait, no... You don't actually have it, right? ;)

    It took me a while to learn to be tactful and to mention the good, too, not just the bad. It also took me a while to learn how much to tell; if they're at the early stages of their writing path, there is such a thing as too much feedback (if it's overwhelming and goes over their heads, it's too much at that point, although it can be useful down the road).

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    1. That's definitely true. If they don't know what you're talking about, it's not going to be helpful...but, if they're serious about the business, they will seek out the answers--whether by asking you, or looking it up.

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  10. This is SO helpful! I always tell new writers to find a critique group. That was the most useful thing to me in my early days. You can make all those crazy early mistakes together. But new writers tend instead to go find a very experienced writer and request a beta read. It's amazing how much someone else who's starting out can help. We all tend to be better at seeing the flaws in other people's books than our owns!

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    1. It's true. Critique groups can be amazingly helpful, although it can be tricky to find the right one. Just like critique partners.

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  11. Yeah for Crystal! So excited for her. Loved her advice about helping out new authors. It can be hard to swallow the critique we get, especially when we start out- but that advice is so helpful. I recently had to give a new author feedback and I am happy to see that I did most of the things Crystal mentioned. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Way to go, Jess! I think as long as a critique come from the motivation of truly wanting to help someone, it should be well received.

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  12. I think you have all the suggestions right, although some people need different types of feedback. I use CPs as I'm writing and want all the feedback I can get, especially rewrites if they have a suggestion on how a line can be made clearer (and help getting rid of those darn passive verbs!). After it's been revised a lot, then I bring in the betas who only give an overview of their feelings about plot and character. We all have to figure out what works for us. Wishing you much success with your trilogy!!

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    1. I use CPs early on too, and betas are for when most the flaws are worked out. Still, they get a great overview and seeing their comments inline helps point out any plot or character motivational issues that remain. A general overview of the story fails to show us WHERE they started having issues.

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