Beta Readers

Beta readers: solid gold

That make you cry

If they’re doing their job right

 

IMG_0193I haven’t been able to do much reading because my Beta readers are helping me put the final touches on my behind schedule novel, Someone’s Clone. Seems that a Masters degree in English doesn’t make me a grammar expert.

Au contraire…it’s a humbling experience, and often the computer doesn’t help as it auto corrects ridiculousness. I try to explain that I really know it’s from its. Really.

What I don’t know, as one reader pointed out, is how to pour a drink. One of my favorite readers corrected the manuscript, saying that you don’t pour the drink before the ice cubes go in. (As I wrote in the book) To pour a drink properly, you must put the cubes in first and then pour the drink over it.

So heads up out there all you drinkers.

My Beta reader from Zurich, Switzerland, (how cool is that?) just had an adorable little girl. Her pictures are yummy. But, one of my main characters is a thirteen year old teenager who is an only child and is used to getting her way. She wants to go to an event with her mother and when mom says “No,” it goes like this:

“You said I could go with you to fix Kayse,” Tempest protested indignantly.

“I said no such thing. Besides, we’re not ‘fixing’ him; we’re just going to alter a few things to make him look a little different.”

“You promised,” Tempest wailed, a stubborn expression developing on her face. “You told me I could go. I remember you saying it. You’re just getting old and forgetting things,” she grumped.

Elise inhaled sharply. Her voice tightened as she said, “I promised no such thing, and I don’t forget! My memory is functioning just fine. Finish your breakfast. Amy’s due any time now.”

“Getting old and forgetting stuff I tell you. You’re scaring me,” Tempest muttered under her breath.

Elise glared at her. She looked like she might burst into flames at any moment.

 

The new mother was upset with Tempest’s behavior. But this was taken from a real life conversation between me and my teenage only child. Babies act adorable to bond mother and child together, but teenagers are a whole other program. Nature makes them that way so when they’re ready to fly the nest, you’re there holding the door open.

 

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In my novel there is a lot of flying around in “Helios.” Another picky Beta reader took me to task when I dubbed the cyclic a “control stick,” and she proceeded to inform me that the cyclic controls the forward, left, and right action of the helicopter while the collective on the left controls the up and down motion. Pedals manage the spin. Smoke doesn’t fly through but would clear a path as the prop wash pushes air down and away rather than drawing it in. She concludes that if she, as a fifty some year old woman, knows this, a lot of readers might also.

While this is all true, I’m not unfamiliar with flying. I have logged many hours as copilot to my husband during the years we owned or partnered in over five various planes. In fact, the crash in Touching Crystal is taken from an actual experience when we crashed in our Mooney over New York State. I have soloed in a Cessna and rode tandem in our sports Citabria during spontaneous acrobatics when husband got bored flying “straight and level.”

I didn’t know it was called a cyclic, would you know that? However, I am impressed with her accuracy (confirmed by pilot husband) and knowledge, yet I doubt most women or even most men would know that the stick that flies a helicopter is called a cyclic.

But…would someone on another world use that exact label? It’s so specific that I doubt it would be called the exact same name, and maybe they might have labeled it a control stick…or perhaps I should make up a name.

To what extent should an author use Earth names and labels when writing about another world? I know I will never try to change Earth measurements again. I have readers confused on what a rotation is (day), cycle (ten days), annual (year) and other measures. While it makes sense that an alien world would not name measurements the same way we do, your readers will get in an uproar trying to figure out what you mean. And once you start, you can’t stop.

Don’t do it. Take my advice.

My Beta Readers are precious and smart and real sticklers for how I write.

And you, dear readers, are the beneficiaries of such great care.

 

 

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6 Comments

Filed under Beta Readers, blog information, science fiction

6 responses to “Beta Readers

  1. That mother-daughter conversation still makes me cringe. 😀 But I suppose it’s got less to do with my experience (which is nill compared to yours since I’ve only been a mom for a year now) but with the culture I come from. If you talk like that to your mother in Eastern Europe, you could get in serious trouble. Talking back to one’s parents is very frowned upon, and despite there being many very cool parent-kid relationships (my parents and mine included), the majority are based on respect and a sort of deference, and not on friendship. It’s definitely a cultural difference to the US (or even Western Europe).

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  2. I don’t know of many people who would say that Anne McCaffrey was wrong to call a Pernese year a “Turn.” I’m surprised you had trouble with calling a year an “annual” — I’d think that was even MORE obvious. Besides, there are also readers who disapprove if you call it a year but it has more or fewer days than an Earth year… and readers who gripe about the use of metric measurement for distance and mass, and readers who gripe if you DON’T use metric.

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    • You are so right! I thought I was being clever, but I confused them. Annual wasn’t too bad, but I made a rotation like our day…and then a cycle was ten rotations…the comments started coming in.

      I have found that no two people read a story quite the same way. Some like the science; some like the relationships. Some roll with the action and others focus on detail and description.

      You just write what you like best and hope there are others that feel the same way.

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  3. claytonjcallahan

    Yep, beta readers = good.

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  4. Absolutely. I would never think to say that to my mother, but an only child posed a different situation . All the parent’s guidebooks emphasized developing self esteem. We may have overachieved our goal there. She’s a fantastic kid now. If you talk to my daughter, she considered us strict.

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  5. You’re one of my favorite critiquers and writers, Clayton

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