Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It Takes a Village

I'm a firm believer that it takes a village to write a novel. I know there are authors out there who don't require critique partners or beta readers, and that's great. I envy them. I wish I could achieve that level of non-dependency, but it's a while away for me. I have too many ideas. I'm pulled in too many directions. And honestly, I'm too green as a writer to be left to my own devices.

I have a couple of critique partners who are my lifelines. They don't blink now when I email them one version of a book. Then a day later email them the same book with new beginning or ending chapters. (Beginnings are always the hardest IMO.)

My betas are also worth their weight in gold for the same reason. They'll re-read previous book plus the current project to make sure I haven't missed any details or contradicted myself. That very thing is what leads me to the bulk of this post...where a beta reader saved my hide. I directly contradicted a rule of my world laid out in the first book in the second book. It was a single line, but it would have raised eyebrows. So, yeah, I could write on my own. It just wouldn't be pretty. ;)

Here is a recounting of that beta's experience.

When I am sick I tend to do my best work. That may sound crazy as it makes my mind all fuzzy and it takes me a long time to process what I need to do, but it is for that reason that I do so well. I have to actually take the time to stop and think about what I am doing. Back in the middle of March Hailey asked me to read Evermine for her. My first instinct was YES! I want it, *gimme now*.  I had to inform her that I was sick, which was both good and bad. It would take me longer than normal to get through the book and get back to her on my thoughts. I also wanted to reread Everlong before I began reading Evermine to have it fresh in my mind.
Well because I was sick I was not getting very much sleep and I very much wanted to sleep badly, but I was up all hours of the night. It gave me plenty of time to read. When I did sleep, after finishing Evermine, that was when the fun stuff began. If you are a fan of the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher then you are aware of how he talks with himself in his subconscious. Well I had and out of body experience similar to that. There had been something bothering me about the book, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Instead of driving myself crazy about I thought I would let it go for the moment. I went to sleep, and instead I had a bizarre dream where I talked to myself about the book.
So I am standing in this void. Everything is black. There is nothing in the blackness except one other person. I look over and there I am. Of course there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with seeing yourself and going over and saying “so why are you here”.Then having yourself respond “why I was waiting for you, took you long enough” Then pondering that statement and saying “well I am here now” and waiting expectantly.
*blinks* *waits* and then “well I know what is wrong, where to look with what’s bothering you” Then tilt my head as if considering what I was saying to myself, and wait expectantly for myself to continue. “In Everlong, Maddie smells bad to the mated men” I say to myself. “In Evermine……”I stop and have a moment of complete clarity, then say “OMG!! You are right that is it. I have to tell Hailey.”I have never had a dream where I talked to myself before. It was so crazy that I had to tell Hailey that the combination of her book and my illness caused me to split in two.  I guess it was my way of breaking the book down and making sure it all made sense. Of course a normal person would probably have taken notes and not felt the need to contact her inner self for enlightenment. Of course that makes absolutely no sense to most people. It was a dream where I talk to myself. It should be expected to have been bizarre. I mean it made sense to both of me and that is what mattered, lol.


Annie Nicholas said...

That's hilarious! Thank goodness for beta readers.

Hailey Edwards said...

I know, right? She really saved my butt on one detail. I'm learning series-specific betas are a must have.