Saturday, 7 June 2014

Finishing Your Story .... Part Two

There is quite a big gap between this post and the last one. You might remember last time I was talking about finishing your story and making it perfect... well if you don't remember go back and bloody read it. Waiting. Waiting. Oh good you're back. Now as I was saying, there's been a gap. And there is a reason for this.

Finishing your story is going to be one of the hardest moments to realise. You can write "the end" but there is always going to be that chapter that could be better, that bit of dialogue that needs smoothing over. Eventually every author just has to step away from the manuscript and call it a day. This is the horizon moment for every author. We can see that end in the distance but we can never reach it.

So when do you just stop? In my case it was when I forgot how to use commas. I found myself staring at the manuscript after the 100th read through - trying to making it the best it could be - and suddenly I had a comma meltdown.

They started, showing up everywhere, places they were supposed to, and, places, where they, weren't! Oh crap I've still got some residue grammatical overload. This stage was my neon sign telling me there was nothing more I could do and every buff and polish was now just going to smear.

Your book can always be better but you will reach a point where you can't make it better. That is the end stage. When you find yourself vandalising your work stop. Please stop. Now you are there. This is the end.

But this doesn't mean the book is perfect. It doesn't even mean the book is finished. You've reached the stage where you can't be trusted with your work. Now is the time to hand it over to beta readers.

This is where I am at with my new book. It got to the point where I couldn't see the wood for the trees and I just had to draw a line under what I had done. It doesn't mean I am not proud of what I've done, but like a lot of authors I'm at the self-conscious stage. What if my writing has slipped? What if the plot doesn't hold up? And to make matters worse, this is a sequel to a really well received novel so: What if this doesn't live up to expectations.

Well that's what my betas are going to tell me and once I have their insight my confidence will grow - or plummet.

So you're now ready to find your beta readers - how the hell do you do that? That at least I can help with. Beta readers are everywhere. They don't need to have qualifications or special skills. In fact the bigger the mix of readers the better. All you are looking for is people who will read your book and be honest.

I found a lot of my betas from Goodreads. They have beta groups where you can post and also have betas posting their services. Also Facebook has lots of beta groups which are open to all newbies and their work. You should easily pick up a handful of readers and in this instance the more the merrier. Bear in mind half your readers may not get back to you but treasure those that do.

So my book is out with the readers at the moment, which means the next post will be about dealing with feedback. Good and bad.

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