Why CPs and Beta Readers Are So Important

Why-CPs-and-Beta-Readers-Are-So-Important

I started writing my own books when I was about 13/14 years old (it could have been before then because my memory is terrible sometimes). Back then, no one saw my writing apart from my best friend at the time and even then, she never offered a critique of my work. She just told me it was good or that she enjoyed it. Of course, I was practising, and I wasn’t as serious about publishing as I am now.

During my time at school, I wrote 3 completed novels, but I never edited them. Another idea always popped up to drag my attention away. There were also a number of ideas I started and never finished. When I completed my 4th novel in March of 2018, I thought that was the one. I started revising it, but then I got the idea for my dragon book. I couldn’t ignore this one because everything about it felt so right. I could see the world, the characters and where I wanted the story to go. I finished the first draft in 4 months and managed to find an incredible critique partner who has helped me along the way and become such an amazing friend in the process.

Working with A CP

My CP, Noelle, started reading my chapters while I was still writing, so she has literally been there since the beginning and has seen the messier stuff. I’ve sent chapters to her with little apologies and emails saying, ‘this is probably trash but here we go!’ However, she normally lets me know those doubts are just in my head and that for a first draft, it was pretty good. I suppose that’s the perfectionist in me making sure I get it mostly right the first time, even though I don’t outline. Don’t worry, I don’t understand it either.

Noelle has shown me when I use ‘and’ and ‘that’ too much, which I am slowly fixing as I go through my third draft and has been so supportive. She knows when I can do better, urging me on with comments along the lines of, ‘use your descriptive powers, show me what it feels like’ because I can admit that description is one of my strong suits when writing. When it comes to sentencing structure and pacing, her advice is invaluable in helping me improve. She is also my biggest supporter. She will scream in the comments when a plot twist occurs and tell me how much she loves my characters, so much so that she wants me to promise I won’t hurt them (which I can’t do, unfortunately – sorry Noelle).

Of course, there are things I need to work on, like all writers, but having a CP who looks at a story beyond the words on the surface is invaluable. All the advice she has given me sticks in my brain and has made my second and then third drafts even better. A CP also helps when there’s a plot point that you’re stuck on. Noelle helped me smooth out the kinks with the backstory of the enemy in my story and notified me when things might get tricky for a reader to understand. After all, I want this story to be as smooth as possible when I send it to agents for querying. They will want to know I can put in the work before I ever had an agent and that I’m taking this seriously.

While Noelle was my first CP, one of my beta readers has become another CP as her comments are so detailed and helpful. The more eyes on my manuscript, the better. However, when it comes to choosing a CP, make sure they are people you trust and who have similar views and tastes as you. It will make the process a lot smoother.

Taking It Up A Notch with Beta Readers

After smoothing things out in the second draft with the help of Noelle, I knew it was time to get other people to look at my words. This is when the beta readers come in. Personally, I chose four (making it 6 people in total who are helping me). For me, four is the perfect number as some of them don’t make a lot of comments, whereas others do. It also allows me to know when there is truly a problem with the book. If only one person picks up on something, it’s likely to just be their opinion, but if three of my betas pick up on something, I know it needs changing. However, that isn’t always the case. I had one beta reader let me know why my beginning might not make sense and suggested a way to change it (which I loved), but I wanted to run it by my other betas. They agreed, saying they hadn’t thought of it before and instead of sending them the second half after reading the first, I wanted to do a third draft so they could see if it flowed well. Two of my betas also suggested altering the character of Afira slightly, as well as having more of her voice in the story, and it made me realise it’s what I always wanted her to be like.

Another reason having beta readers is great is because it allows you to know when you’ve done something right. There have been certain scenes and sentences where all my beta comments were along the same lines. Whether that is telling me it shows great character or made them emotional, it lets me know I’m doing something right. On the days where I’m feeling down about my writing, I simply open up the document with their comments on and read it. Seeing those positive comments does so much for me mentally and gives me the drive to keep on going.

I know with the help of my betas I will be ready for querying in the summer, hopefully before I hit the first anniversary of working on this book (which is in June). I trust them all and listen to their comments. Criticism wasn’t something I dealt with well when I was younger (something my mum likes to remind me of), but I’ve grown a lot recently. Sometimes I get that ‘oh no, they hate it and think it’s terrible’ feeling when I see the comments, but after a little time, I realise they only say it because they want to help. Because they believe in me and this story and want to make it better. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

page-break

If you’re a writer and you’re at the point where you think you need some more eyes on the draft, go for it! Choose friends and people you trust who will be able to give both praise and criticism. It’s a great way to prepare you for if you do get an agent because it’s likely they’ll want you to rewrite parts or cut whole sections.

I’m happy to have found people who will hopefully stick around for all my other magical ideas!

Advertisements

Wrapping Up The Week (4th June – 10th June)

I feel like I have been having the best weekend ever. While I haven’t done a tonne of reading this week, I did get hit with an amazing story idea that I have thrown myself into since Friday (which I will discuss later on in the blog post). Not only that, but I’ve also taken some time to watch some TV and just relax a little.

Blogging was a little tough to keep up with this week, with Tuesday being a pain thanks to my laptop taking two hours to update leaving me unable to write my Top Ten post, and just being busy in the evenings. I am hoping to get a schedule in place for next week that means I can do some more blogging.

Books I read and reviewed…

empire of storms

This week I finally got around to finishing and reviewing Empire of Storms, which was just amazing. It was incredible to see everything fall into place, knowing that all of this was set into motion in the first book. I was blown away and I hate that I have to wait so long to find out what happens to them all. At least I have Tower of Dawn still left to read and the Assassin’s Blade, too. There were a few places in the book that seemed a little slow and for this reason I ended up giving it 4 stars, which you can read about here.

I am currently reading…

frozen tides

Still making my way through this, mainly because I’ve been so distracted and NOT because it is boring. The exact opposite really, as I am loving the fourth instalment in the series. I would say I am around 65% of the way through and I feel like a few major incidents have happened. This series is definitely more character driven and I kind of like that. Too much action can get a little boring at times. Fingers crossed I can possibly finish this tomorrow night.

Posts from the week…

WWW Wednesday – Shocking Twists

May Book Haul – Some of My Favourites (Plus a Little Chat About My Writing)

A much quieter week, as mentioned before, but I still feel like I have accomplished a lot. I also went to a convention with work on Wednesday which completely tired me out. I’m surprised I even managed to write a blog post on that day. Who knew socialising would be so tiring?

My WIP…

If you follow my blog you will know that for the last 7/8 months I have been working on a novel called The Lost Heir. Well…I kind of shoved that to the side to make room for a new work in progress that features dragons, and I’m pretty sure it was inspired by the third How To Train Your Dragon trailer. Not that it features any of their story ideas, but it does feature some kick-ass dragons.

I’ve managed to write nearly 5,000 words so far for the first draft, with the first chapter being completed. I have to say that already I feel like this is the book I should be writing. Everything is so clear in my head. I managed to write 900 words for the character descriptions (just so I don’t change things by accident) and even managed to do a rough outline for the first half of the story in 1,400 words. I don’t want to say too much but it involves a race of humans that can turn into dragons called the Dracari, dragon guardians, hunters, blood mages, and lots of politics. I can’t wait for all the drama to unfold. I’m not sure whether it will be a standalone or a duology, but I will find out soon.

page-break

And that is all folks! I hope that you managed to read some amazing books this week.

Let me know in the comments how your week went.

 

 

May Book Haul – Some of My Favourites (Plus a Little Chat About My Writing)

I cannot tell you how happy I am that it is the weekend, not because work was bad (it was very good and the week flew by), but because I am so excited to get reading and writing. I was sat at my desk in work and was hit by a book idea out of nowhere and I am obsessed. I’ve been editing my other book for a little while now and was getting stuck with it, so I’m hoping that this burst of inspiration will help me in the future. I just need to get the creativity flowing again.

For now I am going to be taking a break to focus on this new story, which features dragons, and I am so excited! I already have the characters in my head and I can see where the story is going to go. For now I am getting the first couple thousand words written to get a feel for the world and then I will probably get to work on doing a vague outline. I did just want to share two aesthetics that I created for the idea (which I am quite proud of).

Everybody, meet Afira and the darkness that is threatening to destroy her world. I won’t say much else at the moment apart from the fact that there are dragons and elemental magic.

I should probably talk about the main thing here, which is my book haul for the month of May!

My Haul…

IMG_8458

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

IMG_8680

Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes

Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

Out of these six, I have read the three in the first image, and I’m currently reading Frozen Tides (which I am loving). I feel like Morgan Rhodes took over my book haul a lot this time, but when the books are on offer you’ve gotta buy them.

Books From NetGalley…

ace of shades

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Only one book from NetGalley because I haven’t been requesting many. There just aren’t any that have caught my eye, although I did get accepted for one earlier on in the week that I’m excited about.

page-break

This is an average haul for me and I think it’ll be my last for a little while (until I have to buy the last book in the Falling Kingdoms series). I’m trying to make my way through all the books I haven’t read yet, which will probably take me all summer.

Wish me luck!