Getting a Book Ready for the Beta-Readers

The longer I work on something, the more likely it is I’ll drift at some point into a creative doldrums, where I spend days or even weeks,  tweaking this, tweaking that, agonizing over a single phrase, sometimes a single word, writing in circles, rewriting the same scenes over and over and then finally just deleting them.

But if I don’t lose hope, if I keep at it long enough, I generally catch a favourable wind at some point that fills my sails and carries me very quickly – sometimes almost out of control – to the end of a story or chapter. Sometimes the storm of inspiration and enthusiasm dies down suddenly, other times, it carries me right into the next chapter or next project. But one thing it almost inevitably does, is give me an unduly optimistic feeling about what I’ve just written. You’d think Shakespeare himself never penned such a masterpiece!

I generally get over this quickly – usually as soon as I start to reread it. But every once in a while, the work turns out to be almost as good as I think it is. A few tweaks and its ready to send out into the world. Pretty much all of my award nominated stories began that way. I’ve finished a few that weren’t as good as I thought they were. And most of my attempts at novel writing up to this point have ground to a complete halt before I get to a draft polished enough to actually send people.
Which is why I am so damned excited about my Work in Progress.

I just finished test reading Part 1 of Avenging Glory - Book 1 The Human Template, to see if it is ready to send to beta-readers.

This is easily the longest, most ambitious thing I’ve ever written and this is somewhere around the fifth draft. I was delighted that it flowed and held together as well as it did. Where the story started getting complicated, I felt that it had the kind of clarity my work often doesn’t manage to maintain – so that I explained things well enough for readers to follow, without belabouring anything or slowing down the momentum. It’s filled with hooks, with fun and exciting sub-plots, and with fascinating bits of history and philosophy. I hope that the technical bafflegab is convincing and the sex scenes are sexy, well written and that they address some of the key issues of our times in an engaging and non-alienating way.

I’m pretty sure perfection is still a ways off, but damn! I’m awfully proud of what I’ve written so far.
I’m giving myself about a month to finish the beta version for the rest of Book One. I didn’t originally envision it as a stand-alone book, but The Human Template is most definitely its own entity. It’s even a different genre than Book Two– in many ways.

The Human Template is pop-culture, post-apocalyptic science fiction, with a ton of world-building.
Three Goddesses and a Tree (I’m just trying out this title for Book Two of Avenging Glory, and trying to decide if it should be Four Goddesses and a Tree) is a musical, adventure-romance epic with human and non-human characters.

No matter how I slice it, the diptych will be finished soon. No more one year delays while I write the prequel. No more complete restructuring. No more dithering or procrastinating.

It’s been long enough already that half my Beta readers have probably forgotten they agreed to beta read – or have been swamped with other obligations so that they no longer have the time – or have one of a thousand other legitimate excuses. So if anyone is curious, I would be happy to send it to you. Essentially all I ask if that you answer a tiny questionnaire  (one of the options is why you quit reading and didn’t go back – so I even built in a Get Out of Jail Free card if you’re really not enjoying it.).

There are eight questions. One is multiple choice.

1.      Did the opening pull you in and make you want to keep reading?
2.      Which is the weakest and/or strongest section of the book?
3.      At what point did you first glaze over/skip ahead and why? Did it happen more than once? Did it diminish your enjoyment of the book?
4.      Is the BioGrid and how it works:
a)      explained well enough for you to follow the story
b)      over-explained and redundant
c)      Over explained in some places/ways and under explained in others
d)      engaging enough to make you accept whatever you found farfetched?
5.      Did you hit any point that really threw you out of the book? Did you stop reading completely at that point?
6.      Who is your favourite character?
7.      If you paid full price for the book, would you consider it money well spent?

8.      Would you recommend the book to other readers?


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