Tag Archives: beta reading

The Importance of Beta Readers – Book 3

Hey everyone!

NaNoWriMo 2019 was an absolute success, and with almost a week to spare, I finished the third novel of the Sword of Dragons series!

Finishing was a massive rush of satisfaction and relief – I’ve stalled on book 3 almost as much as I stalled on book 1 back in the day, mostly due to life events.  NaNoWriMo came at the perfect time, and I was able to buckle down and power through the second half of the novel.

Additionally, I’ve gone through an immediate first edit!  However, this served more than just a single read-through for prose or grammar or anything like that – I changed course in several ways on this book since I first started writing it, and that meant I had to go back and retroactively correct incontinuities in the first half.

This time, however, now that the second draft is complete, I’m doing something I’ve never done before – allowing beta readers to read it before the third draft.

Why Early Beta Readers are Important

To be honest, I should have allowed people to read books 1 and 2, and The Orc War Campaigns, long before I did.  Especially Burning Skies, however, because it was only after it was published that I received a valuable piece of feedback about the ending.

If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to have read the 1st edition of Burning Skies (the old cover can be seen on the right,) you may remember the final battle against Nuuldan ending with Cardin basically watching someone else defeat the villain.  In many respects, it was a Deus Ex Machina conclusion.

So for the 2nd edition, I made Cardin more directly responsible for overcoming the villain, without sacrificing the inclusion of those who came to help him (I’m trying not to spoil the book too much, in case you came to my blog having never read my books :) )

If I had given this book over to beta readers earlier and asked for plot and character feedback, someone might have caught that plot point and the 1st edition might never have had that blemish.

This is why I encourage any and all writers to allow at least one person to beta read very early.  Either after a first or second draft.  In that case, I would recommend asking them not to focus as much on grammar and sentence structure (you can fix that in your next draft and ask an editor to focus on that, or at least subsequent beta readers, if you’re like me and can’t afford to hire an editor.)

Which brings me to another point…

Writers and Egos

One thing I had to learn very early on as a writer, and sometimes is a lesson I have to be re-taught – if you have an ego about your writing, it’s going to get bruised or even shattered at some point.  This could be in a writer’s critique group, or it could be reviews of your published works.

But in my opinion, it is vital to drop any ego when it comes to beta reading and early feedback.  You may think you’ve come up with the absolute best story, or the greatest characters, or the most engaging plot, but it is entirely possible that a beta reader will come back and say, “Um, this didn’t work.  I think you need to find a way to fix the plot.”  Or “This character is exceedingly boring.”

In fact, I received that last bit of feedback from an agent for another book series I’ve been working on in the background, and while at first I felt a little ego bruising, I realized she was right.  I’ve started working on fixing that while I let Sword of Dragons book 3 simmer for a while and wait for beta reader feedback :)

If, after setting aside your ego, you feel like the beta reader may still be incorrect, get a second and third opinion.  If everyone you let beta read agrees that something doesn’t work, do your best to fix it.  Ask them why they think something doesn’t work, and if you’re stuck on how to make it better, ask them their opinions.

Ultimately, however, this is your story to tell.  The final decision will always be yours, and the advice I’m giving today is with the assumption that your goal is to write something that a lot of people will want to read.  If your goal is instead to just write your story your way and you’re not as concerned about how well your book sells, that is perfectly legitimate.

If there is one universal advice about writing, it’s that we should all do it for the reasons we want to, not for the reasons others tell us we should be doing it.

Thanks for reading, everyone!  Happy holidays!

-Jon Wasik

Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy

Hi everyone!

Last night, I finished the 2nd revision of book 1 of the Chronicles of the Sentinels!  :D  This was an exciting milestone, because it means that I finally, finally get to share the novel with others!

Every single milestone in writing a novel is exciting to me, and as I’ve said before, the actual writing stage is my favorite.  However, the idea that new eyes will get to read the story is so exciting to me!  What will they think about it?  How will they interpret it?  All of the subtle little subtext I put in, will they see it?

Most of all, I hope that it sparks the imagination of those who read it.  I hope they finish this relatively short novel and go “That was exciting!  Where’s book 2?”

In fact, I’ve already sent my novel out to I think 8 beta readers (and am about to send it to a 9th :) )  I am so excited and looking forward to seeing their responses!!

The Titles of Chronicles

As you can see from the title of this blog article, I finally came up with a name for the 1st book, simply, “Legacy.”  I reserve the right to change that, of course, but I think it fits the story nicely :)

More than that, I kind of have some ideas for titles for all 3 books by keeping to the simplicity of it.  So while every novel’s title will begin with “Chronicles of the Sentinels,” the individual book’s title will be 1 descriptive word.

I don’t want to reveal all of the titles right here, for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is I may change them after writing the novels.  Also, there is a certain hype that comes with revealing a novel’s title, so I want to save that for when I’m hyping the 2nd and 3rd books :)

So, book 1 is officially called: Chronicles of the Sentinels – Legacy

What next?

Well, for starters, I wait for beta readers to finish and give feedback.  I hope to hear back from at least a couple of them before the writing conference.

Image Source - http://www.rmfw.org/
Image Source – http://www.rmfw.org/

The next milestone is the Writer’s Conference in September, and for that, I need to start researching how to pitch a novel, and start practicing!  2 weeks isn’t a long time to figure out how to do something I’ve never done before.  However, if I continue to treat this as part of the writing process, IE: put hours into it every day, I’m confident I’ll be ready :)

Do any of my fellow writers out there have any advice on pitching a novel in person?  What are your experiences?

Oh, and before I forget, the numbers from revision #2!

Chronicles of the Sentinels – 3rd Draft by the Numbers

There may still be some revisions after I get feedback from beta readers, but here it is, as polished as I can make it right now :)

Word Count: 72,970
Page Count: 226

That’s almost 100 words more than the 2nd draft, so there was a net increase.  Interesting since there were, in some cases, whole sentences I removed, others I tightened up.

Thanks for reading, everyone!
-Jon