Friday, August 17, 2012

The Great Surprising Beta Reader

Today, I'm following in the footsteps of my Tangled girls and writing my own type of  "summer" post. I promise I'll try to keep it from boring you to death. :-)

My summer started off amazing. I signed up both of my boys for a toddler summer camp that was run through the town. Doing this allotted me forty-eight hours of writing time that I never, ever would have had. For those of you who can't write during the day due to children or a job that isn't writing, you know that eight hours a week of time to focus solely on writing is like giving a chocolate addict a bag of Lindt truffles. GOLD. 

The plan was that I'd complete revisions on my old WIP, and then I'm tear through a huge chunk of my newest WIP after that. So when camp first started, I was working diligently on finishing up revisions for my agent. I had challenges. Like, cry and want to punch your laptop screen kind of challenges, but through the help of my all-kinds-of-awesome crit partners, I survived. Just before I was set to turn said revisions in, I decided to give the book one last read-through. After reading the first few pages again, I suddenly began to feel very proud of myself. I had written, revised, rewritten, revised, edited, rewritten, and revised again, and here it was: all finished. Woohoo!!!

Exciting stuff, right? Well, let me tell you what happened. My husband happened. Like a giddy child, I wanted to show him what I'd done. He'd read bits and pieces of the book before, but hadn't read any of this newer, better version. So, boldly and proudly, I hand him my Nook and tell him to start reading. I don't know what I expected, but him telling me that he thinks he can help me make it even better wasn't it.

I stared at him. I may have felt like crying. Okay, I did. Because I trust him, obviously. And he's super smart, but he doesn't write or even usually *read* fiction, so did he really think he could help? I doubted it, but agreed to let him read and crit the first chapter. I'd take a look at his notes and we'd decide if I wanted him to continue from there.

At the end of the day, his notes really were helpful. It kind of sucked to know that it would be a few more weeks before I turned the WIP in, but there was no doubt that the things he was asking me were making my book even better. And I'm thankful that my husband, a man who literally reads textbooks for fun, took the time to not only read my manuscript, but to help me make it more than I thought possible.

Essentially, my summer was filled with lots of writing, though not as much on the new WIP as I'd originally hoped. Asking my husband to read the manuscript was a major turning point for how I spent the summer, but I'm okay with how it turned out. When it's all said and done, I know I turned in a manuscript that I can *truly* be proud of, no matter what happens with it.

And now? Will I ask him to read my manuscripts from here on out? You bet. 

1 comment:

  1. This is something I've really been interested in and I've actually asked a friend of mine, whose husband is the writer, if she actually reads his finished works. I love the idea of getting my husband's input, but it makes me nervous at the same time. He's an avid reader when he has time, but he doesn't know the first thing about writing. I've talked a lot to him about my WIP and asked for his opinion several times, but I have yet to actually take the plunge and let him read anything. Maybe this is the encouragement I've been looking for. If you can do it, maybe I can too :)