First of all, thank you for participating in this pre-publication First Read, and helping me to write the best book I can. Some of you have known me at some period in my life. It’s going to be a task for you to step back from that, and read the stories as abstractly as possible, as a group of characters you’ve never met. That’s the way you can help me most, in the writing process.
Thoughts like “Oh I didn’t know you went through so much, you poor thing.” Or: comments like “I loved it” are non-contributory. I’m not saying to be brutal, only saying, as you read, keep reminding yourself that this is a piece of writing, that’s all, just like a book you bought at the drugstore.
As you read, or after a chapter, just notice things like “what was my impression of this chapter? What stood out for me? What seems strong? Weak? Too fast or slow? Confusing? Unrealistic? Vivid?.” Was there enough of __(fill in the blank)__ or too much? Those are the things I need to know about, things that if spotted and corrected, will make the book clearer and better, more on target in saying what I really want to say in a way that is understandable, not phony, not preachy, not fancy but as genuinely as I can.
In writing the stories, I found it enormously helpful to think of the protagonist/ storyteller as simply a character in a book. Not me. That changed both my perspective and my perception surprisingly. When I stepped back and looked at this funny little girl from a distance, as someone I was observing like a character in a movie, I saw things about her that I never could have seen when I was her.
So if you are one of my friends, don’t take Victoria with you into chapter one, dump her at the gate and leave her out of it. She is someone else, who came much later. The first time you meet Vickie, see her as somebody you have never met before. And in your comments and suggestions, please refer to this character as “the little girl” or “the storyteller.” That will help you keep a fresh unbiased perspective. For example, write “she was…” Not “you were…” This is important. Other than that, just enjoy a free book.
Congratulations, you are now a Developmental Editor. Professional ones make big bucks for this. So please know how much I value and appreciate your participation in my creative process. This will surely bring you lovely Karma. I’ll be blogging more here about the beta reader experience, so y’all come back.