What Writers Can Learn From The KonMari Method

Letting go good characters and clutter words header

When I’m sleep deprived, I spew out random things, and sometimes, just sometimes, they stick. In this case, a friend, while talking about reaching the end of her series, noted how sad she’d be to let go of those characters and their world. My response (knowing she’d also read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up) was to say that she needed to KonMari her characters.  Namely, thank them for the time they’d spent together and the joy they’d sparked inside of her, and then let them go, making room for new stories and characters that will bring her just as much joy. Continue reading


Beta Reading Process Part 3: The Data

This is the final part of an ongoing series about the beta reading process. To read the previous entries, visit Part I and Part II.

All right. You’ve wrapped up the beta reading process, and depending on the number of beta readers you had, you might have a lot of data to pore over. It can overwhelming, particularly if there is a lot of constructive comments. Heck, it might also have you seeing red because your manuscript is your special baby. That is why you, dear writer, need to take a deep breath and step back. Sure, browse the comments, read all of them from each beta reader, but don’t act on them, at least not yet. Continue reading

Beta Reading Process Part 2: Writers vs. Readers

Diving further into the beta reading process, this time around we’re going to explore the readers themselves. Who makes the better beta reader, fellow writers or straight-up readers? Well, I’m afraid there will be no concrete answer to this question; however, I will share my own observations, because these two groups did bring different input to the table during the beta process.

For starters, I had three fellow writers (two who finished) and four readers — a good mix all said and done, and I highly recommend a good mix between the lot.  In particular, I noticed that the straight-up readers tended to finish the manuscript faster; two were scary fast and have already been sniffing around for the sequel (I need to get on that). Readers brought up some great points up, some of which were shared by the writers, but for the most part were very light on their comments and not as critical. I like to say they rolled with the punches. They were patient and waited until the end to draw conclusions, much like one would do with a published novel — to a point. Continue reading

Beta Readers, A Method

Beta readers provide feedback prior to querying or before self-publishing. They often provide invaluable pointers regarding a manuscript, though some might also be slackers. It happens.

Currently, I’m wrapping up additional revisions to my sci-fi novel, Heritage Lost. This has been a long ongoing project that undoubtedly, if you routinely follow my blog, you’ve read about and might be wondering “How long is she going to ticker with it?” Well, after continuing to hit a brick wall in querying process, I dialed back and decided to complete a portion of the writing process that most writers complete: aka the beta reader process.

I skipped over this not because I hadn’t seen any value to the process, but due to some personal hang-ups (I’d been burned once) and my alpha readers had all been extremely positive. However, when I received a string of basic form letter rejections, I decided I needed more eyes on it — specifically reader eyes. My alternative motive was I’m deeply considering self-publishing. It is still my goal to query more agents and a couple of publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts, but I’m also viewing self-publishing as more viable, and I wanted an idea of how my book might be received by a variety of readers.

So I embarked on the beta reading process and gleaned quite a bit from the experience, with some readers confirming some of the concerns I harbored on a few points after my last read-through. I also learned a lot about the beta reading process, and what I’d do differently next time. Continue reading

Beta reading continues

“Heritage Lost,” the working title of my SciFi novel, is currently out to three beta readers, and the response has been very favorable so far. It’s always good to hear comments like “This will be a quick sell” or “I found myself wishing these characters were real.” Not only that, but two are stating they would recommend it to people that they know who like science fiction — that in particular is a relief since “Heritage Lost” is my first foray into the genre, and I won’t lie, I found it to be very challenging. In fact, my one reader has her mother, a big Trekkie, chomping at the bit to read it!

This time around, with the beta reading process, I have two “removed” readers who knew very little or nothing about the novel beforehand and one reader who knows a little bit more about the nuts and bolts of the piece, but not too much. In the past, I’ve usually had one or two readers who were more informed with the piece, so the final outcome of having only “outsiders” look at the piece will be interesting. To top off the experience, I think all three are going to have very different views and likes — always nice to have in a beta reading setting since final product readers will always have differing options. So far, it’s definitely been fascinating to see how different my two further along readers (or guinea pigs) react to scenes and characters differently. It’s also been a good reminder that I’m writing for multiple readers, not just one.

One approach for in-depth feedback that I did this time around was purchase my local/first-to-finish beta reader a coffee and then sit down with her to get her thoughts on the manuscript. Our originally intended meet up place turned out to close early on Saturdays … same case with our second destination. With options limited, we ended up at McDonald’s. But there was still coffee so all was well. Once seated with our coffee, I went through this wonderful beta reader worksheet with her and sat and listened — scribbling down notes with my handy-dandy notebook — as she provided feedback.

It was a fun experience, and I would recommend doing it if your beta readers are local (and do it one-on-one, too many voices at once could get overwhelming, at least for an severe introvert like myself). For the non-local ones, besides taking their Word critiques, talk with them over the phone or Skype with them, because sometimes they will think of different critiques while talking with you directly. I have personally received many great critiques by directly speaking with a reader and asking different questions, which in return sparked ideas from the reader.

While I’ve received very favorable feedback with “Heritage Lost” so far, there is still work to be done on the manuscript — as is to be expected. Starting today, I’m hoping to start fixing the grammatical errors that have been caught and maybe start tweaking some areas of the story. Hopefully, by the time the tweaks are finished, all my beta readers will be done on their reads, leaving me only to finish final revisions, write a synopsis and then submit.