Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Spring Break Book Betas

In spite of the cold that has turned my body into a scum manufacturing center and a chapter so difficult that I'm sure it's from Gehenna, I’m now nearing the end of the second edit of my sequel to Screwing Up Time. And I have a decision to make. If I work hard, I can finish this edit by the end of the week. And my kids have spring break next week. So do I let them read it?

They’ve always been my alpha beta readers. But here’s the problem. You know how people say don’t trust your family, they’ll tell you how wonderful your book is even if it’s not because they love you? Yeah, my family’s not like that. Don’t get me wrong, they love me, but they’re not the kind to blow sunshine at me. They’re more like “Uh, you realize Mark would never say this, right?” or “This section is dumb/confusing/uber-lame.” or my all time favorite “I don’t like this word, you need to change it.”

And actually they are very helpful. But I know that the book isn’t polished yet. The character’s voices aren’t pitch perfect. That comes after nailing the plot when I go through and make sure that all the characters not only say the right things, but say them in the right way. And I’ve only done in a hit and miss way so far. I know there are sections when Mark sounds like Miranda/Granddad/Kate/Brian because I changed the attribution from M/G/K/B to something Mark said because it fit better for the pace or the plot or who knows what—sometimes I get confused about who knows what and when. I actually have notes listing each character’s knowledge about the events of the plot.

So what I’m saying is, “Am I prepared to have my hard work run through the nit-picking eyes of the Keller clan?” The answer, “Yes. Because I need the nit-pickers. They make my job easier.” So, I’ll give them each a highlighter and red pen. (Yes, I believe they delight in marking their teacher’s papers.) In the meantime, I’ll find my thick skin—elephant hide works best. And I’ll get my glasses—the kids’ penmanship deteriorates the further they get in the novel. But it’s all for a good cause. And if I’ve made it through the scum disease and the chapter from Gehenna, I can handle a few/a lot/solid pages of red corrections.


  1. Criticism hurts a lot less from those who love you than from the strangers that read your book and review it on Goodreads! I totally agree with you on this!

  2. Good on you. Criticism, as much as it can hurt, is awesome... especially if it's constructive and can make your work better. Good luck this spring break. Can't wait to hear what you're family think... and I can't wait to read the next book!!

  3. I can't use my kids to beta read my stories. I write upper YA and my oldest is only 12 yo. He did read the first couple of chapters of the first draft of my wip, but I didn't plan for that. I waked into my room one day and found him reading it. He told me it was awesome and could believe I wrote it. It was my first draft and it

  4. I don't think I could stand my family reading my book! Yikes. My sisters would be extremely harsh.

  5. I'm just impressed your kids want to read it!! I'm sure they'll come back with glowing reviews. (or red-stained hands. heh) Good luck!