Creative Writing for health, well-being and fun!

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Monday, 24 July 2017

What can Beta Readers do for you?

Phew! 80,000 words of 'The Wolf of Dalriada - Part 2' are now winging their way to the Beta Readers! A significant moment. But who are Beta Readers and what do they do? Brenda Pollard answers these questions clearly and my own feeling is that Beta Readers are vital to the big picture.
I also provide my Beta Readers with a list of questions to guide their thinking. Not that they need much guidance but I do want to make the most of their expertise as talented readers. The questions I pose are:
  1. People?
    Does each character work?
    Is there consistency even when there is change/ development?
    Do they seem real?
    Is their speech distinct and typical of them?
    Do you care what happens to them?
  2. Setting?
    Is the setting authentic?
    Has too much detail (research) been included?
    Are there any historical inaccuracies - factual; linguistic?
  3. Plotting?
    Are any scenes or sections unnecessary or superfluous - for example, is Chapter 3 in the right place?
    Is the pacing is too slow/too fast at any point?
    Are there any plot-holes or inconsistencies?
    Does the story engage you?
    Did you know how this story was going to end? Was this a problem?
    Please look out for any repetitions and/or too much inclusion of first story in the series?
  4. Anything else?

This list may also be useful for your own self-editing. It certainly concerns itself with the bigger picture. This is called developmental or content editing and does not involve your very kind Beta Readers in proof reading or copy editing. Those are professional areas - necessary and fee-paying. Contact the Society of Editors and Proofreaders for a practitioner near you.

Twitter note!

July 26th 2017 2pm - 3pm @vintageradio08 is hosting Wirral authors. I'll be reading 'Mary's Marsh' – a story of the Dee Estuary. Join me.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Let's get physical!

For ideas about what to do when looking for the perfect day job for a writer, see

Monday, 10 July 2017

With a little help from my friends!

When I first announced that I wanted to attend a writing group – as a participant not a facilitator – someone looked me blankly in the eye and asked ‘Why?’ There I was, the author of two novels, a long-serving and published freelance journalist, a writing coach, a writing group facilitator …?

But, since the question was asked, it hasn’t taken me long to think of six reasons why I should. A little more time and I could probably think of more.

So - here we go:

  1. As a working writer, you need beta readers. These informed non-professional ‘readers’ can tell in a flash what works and what doesn’t in a chunk of your work in progress (WIP).
  2. Reading aloud shows you the flaws in your own piece. When you run out of breath, for example, you know your sentence is too long.
  3. During tea-break, you have the stimulus of chatting to like-minded folk over a custard cream. Introverted writers can be lonely people.  A writers’ group connects you to the human race.
  4. The writers’ group can set a standard, set the bar. You may be way above it but  ‘Oh, how comforting!’ You may fall well below – in which case, try harder.
  5. The writers’ group – with their friends and family – make up a possible market. If you entertain them, they may remember your book when doing their Christmas shopping.
  6. A writers’ group is a pool of distilled wisdom and knowledge. One off-piste discussion at a writers’ group I attended recently embraced the funeral customs of Europe and how they differed. Inspiration for another piece of writing!

So, where do you find these wonderful groups of people? Local libraries, colleges and universities are sure to welcome you to their Continuing Education Creative Writing groups. Or, in the Uk, contact the National Association of Writers’ Groups to find a group near you  and, in the rest of the English-speaking world, google for similar organisations. Personally, I belong to a UK-based U3A (University of the Third Age) group. This is an international organisation (see World U3A ) and I wouldn’t be without them!