Why My Beta Readers Saved My Life.

Symbolic of last night's epiphany.

Symbolic of last night’s epiphany.

I had a big hiccup yesterday. What was it?

I started reading the novel I just finished proofing, and I realized the whole first two pages were pointless expo and nothing the reader can sink his teeth into. I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Never fear! I did not. I drank some Starbucks coffee and watched Fringe for an episode, then after my thoughts were composed and amazing (AMAZING), I looked at the whole big picture.

It wasn’t the whole book. Just first few pages of chapter 1. It seems I wanted SO BAD for the reader to understand my MC’s every characteristic, I just puked info like I was sick on a swaying bus. All over the page. Disgusting. Similes and metaphors living together. It was pure chaos.

So I spent two hours rewriting. In rewriting, I was also able to speak to a writerly friend of mine who promised to look my book over after he had sobered up the next day. In rewriting that crap I didn’t know had slipped past my ever-watchful gaze (no less than ten times). THEN, since I had found conversation with him, I wrote the back cover blurb and the query letter I’ll most likely never send to another agent.

AND THE HOOK! “What is THIS book ABOUT!?”

“Soren didn’t expect to haunt a church, but he’s always fought fire with fire, and demons don’t play by the rules. Now, if he could only decide whether he’s the good guy or the monster.” (Bold added for emphasis)

And then I spoke with my brother, who apparently found the “Track Changes” button on Microsoft Word, and is simply going to town on the copy of the novel I sent to him. In short, I’ll have at least ONE more rewrite to do (which is gold, in my opinion. Brian does the thing every writer dreams of someone doing: he goes into the psychology of the book, the loose ends, the word use, and of course the grammar/spelling issues). Lots of delicious input. And that was what this book really, really needed. For a long while.

Anywho, a highly critical and not-too-connected-to-me guy read my book (in one day. 123k words. Crazy guy, that) and said he loved the idea, wished he thought of it first, and applauded my style and voice. Dominate. Huge score for Chris.

Doesn’t mean my Magical Realism novel will make any kind of splash in the reading community, but I’m workin’ on it! (Advertisement suggestions welcome)

I was also able to understand where my book would fall, categorically. Even though there’s fantasy elements, and horror elements, it’s much more a matter of Literary Fiction. Because the main character is all busted up, his friends are people who don’t exactly take part in his life, and the book is just as much about Soren keeping his sanity as removing demons from the attic.

A lot of stuff cemented for me last night, and it’s all thanks to my search to find beta readers, and the input of beta readers on my book. Given this book has been my life for the past six or so years, they truly saved it. So. They can end up being a community for you, even if you don’t expect it.

Also, some photographs turned out perfect for possible cover art. And I have a few other ideas.

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