Gaffs of Truth

from One Who Creates with Alphabets

17 March 2006

Remember why?

As I sludge through the last chapters/section of a first raw draft, I'm trying to remember why I started writing in the first place.

Oh sure, it was love. I like being able to create and control; to just let my imagination roll over space, time, and species 'limitations'. But what I'm going through is what stops a lot of writers from being successful. IT'S WORK TOO.

Once upon a time, there was a great idea. Then the great idea grew. It became a story, then it needed characters, then it needed details, then it wanted a finely-tuned plot. Finally the darn thing wanted coherent grammar, spelling and sentence and paragraph (and chapter) structure.

When the great lump is finally birthed, it will need to be shaped and polished into a manuscript with a consistent tense, POV (most probably), and no giant plot holes (or jumps). This of course, is the delightful period known as editing and revision. {For those who tortured themselves wringing out 50k words in November for NaNoWriMo, there is NaNoEdMo where you spend 50 hours in March cleaning it up.}

That period is when a lot of writers are lost. Even if they consider it the best thing they've ever written, it still needs to be vetted by others--BEFORE agents and/or publishers. Yes, its hard to find good betas willing to give you time and share hard truths. Its also difficult to have beta readers (the writer is the alpha) who are at the same level. It is preferable to have a beta who is above you, the writer, because one is who below you can actually hurt you if you use their notes which may be wrong for your manuscript.

Writing groups are a good place to make friends, swap information and hopefully pick up a beta or two (though you wouldn't want more than three). However, as writing is a solitary activity, many areas don't have in-person groups. This is where the internet can help. I myself have developed a local writing group with people I got to know on the FM and NaNoWriMo forums.

I started this entry questioning why I started writing. I write because I love it. But I really enjoy the sense of comraderie that sharing my work brings. I hope other writers who would otherwise give up while polishing their pieces find someone for them.

Now I just need to figure out what I like about dating. I wouldn't look for an answer on this until after my wedding, sooooo pencil in about 2020. I'm optimistic!


At 17/3/06 14:29, Blogger Erik Ivan James added...

Good post. It raises a question for me though.

Once you identify a "beta", should you offer to pay them for their time. If yes, what is appropriate-$?

At 17/3/06 14:31, Blogger Erik Ivan James added...

P.S. I live in a rural community that does not have any writers groups.

At 17/3/06 15:45, Blogger AstonWest added...

"Yes, its hard to find good betas willing to give you time and share hard truths."
Or to find ones that actually finish... *snicker*

erik, if you have to pay them, I think you'd call them freelance editors...

At 18/3/06 01:46, Blogger Alphabeter added...

Eric, if they're also a writer, its more of a trade. If its someone who likes reading for pleasure, thats their benefit. If its someone who seeks you out wanting money, I think they're trouble.

And Aston-bite me. I finished. Just not in time to be of any use. Though you should have gotten the 'report'.

At 18/3/06 16:00, Blogger AstonWest added...

Um, never got the report, as far as I know...hopefully my anti-spam filter didn't snag it. It's been doing that more frequently to regular senders...sigh.

must've touched a nerve, though...hopefully you know I was merely kidding... ;-P

And with all the agents beating down my door, one has to wonder what would be considered "not in time to be of any use."


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