Probably some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received, or ever picked up, was finding a beta reader or editor for your book that will work with you to make your book the best that it can be as opposed to finding someone who will make your book the best it can be according to what they think it should be.
It’s a subtle difference, but a major one. It’s the difference between finding someone who wants to draw the story out as opposed to change the story completely. Someone who picks up inconsistencies in characters and words to soften up the edges as opposed to ditching them all together because they’re just not working.
Now that doesn’t mean you won’t have to ditch a character ever. Or won’t have a plot line that just completely fails. But a person should have your story’s best interests in mind, not just their mind injecting what they think is best for the story.
When I was having CURSE OF STARS beta-read and up in critique groups, I received a lot of good feedback on things like tone, character development, and pacing and it really helped me to tighten up the story and mold my characters into far more relatable and realistic people. But I also received feedback that was so obviously someone trying to inject their own perceived expertise into my writing that not only was it hard to swallow, I just plain stopped reading it.
This may sound like sour grapes, or a writer not being able to take criticism. But it’s really not. I can take criticism. Just not when I’m being condescended to. This person assumed I was completely inexperienced and new to writing, to such a point where they outwardly expressed their understanding of my newness (I’ve actually been writing for 25 years and I’ve professionally edited commercially published books but I don’t go around wearing this on my sleeve and I recognize my own shortcomings with my writing, which is why I seek help with it . . .). This person then went on to provide me a chapter critique where the word count was longer than the chapter itself, often using phrasing like “Do you see why this is bad and you need to change it?” I felt like my nose was being held to the page and I was being scolded for not living up to this stranger’s standards.
I turned off when they took a piece of more flowery description, went Drax the Destroyer on it, and completely deconstructed it. It was something about blood boiling and the person was like, “A person’s blood doesn’t boil. If your character’s blood were boiling she’d be dead. Do you see why you need to remove this?” And we’re done! This person cared more about injecting their “wisdom” into my writing than actually helping me improve my writing. And the thing is they thought they were doing good. They charged for this kind of thing and I got it for free. They genuinely thought they were giving me good advice. When I checked up on this person’s credentials they didn’t have any references of note and had next to no edited books to their name, and all of which were self-published by them.
So . . .
When you’re at the editing phase make sure you find people that you mesh with personally and who mesh with your work. Find a person who has a passion for your given genre or category. Someone who knows what it’s like to really need support to build up the story for the story’s sake, not their ego. A true partner will take your book to all new levels.
About Curse of Stars
Curse of Stars (Diamond Crier #1)
by Donna Compositor
Publication Date: February 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Sabi Perez is the last Diamond Crier, only she doesn’t know it. Not until a crazed ruler from another world comes to collect her priceless tears and won’t take no for an answer.
Living in New York, Sabi’s seen some nasty things, but the lengths to which her captor will go to keep his crown are things found only in the darkest nightmares. Afraid and alone, Sabi finds solace in her cellmate, Anya, and Cabal, a fellow Crier who also has powers, a rare combination that buys his favor from the ruler. Only it’s a favor he doesn’t want.
In a fit of rage, power erupts out of Sabi, the same power Cabal has, and a spark of hope ignites. Together they may have a chance at escape, something no other Crier has done. Except a ruler hellbent on draining them of every last diamond tear isn’t their only hurdle. If they escape they’ll be hunted to the ends of the earth, if they survive the trek to safety. If they stay the ruler will leech them dry. Sabi would rather die trying than lie down and die, even if that means running away into even more danger.
“. . . vividly imagined and deftly plotted dark fantasy . . .” BookLife Prize in Fiction
About the Author
Donna has been writing since she was in the single digits when she first realized she needed to do something about all the thoughts in her head. After a stint with bad poetry she finally found her way to novels, mainly of the young adult fantasy variety. When she’s not cranking out more stories she works a regular 9 to 5, reads anywhere from 2 to 3 books a week, drinks copious amounts of tea, eats way too much, and makes her own beauty products because her skin turns into a sentient hive if she uses anything else. This is mostly because she lives in the desert where the air siphons water clean out of her. She lives with a man named Steve and several quadrupeds: three cats named Renfield, Sam, and Dean; and a MinPin named Malfoy.