One Last Read
By Cait Collins
My memoir, First Love; Forever Love is almost ready to go to my beta readers. While my critique group has read every chapter, the beta readers will read the entire work. These three ladies are as important as the critique group. And for that reason, I choose them carefully. They must be objective. I can’t afford readers who pat me on the head and tell me how wonderful I am. I need someone who will be honest and respectful in their reviews. Telling me where I’ve made mistakes is vital to presenting a finished product to agents and editors.
A final reader can more easily catch errors in the continuity. The hero may have brown eyes in chapter one, and blue eyes in chapter five. These inconsistencies are not as noticeable when critiquing individual chapters. However, when read as a complete work, they prompt a red flag.
When the work is read cover to cover, the reader can better judge the flow of the story. They can pick up on the pacing. Is chapter two slower and heavier than the other chapters? Are there too many short, choppy sentences, or are prepositional phrases over used?
Finally, does the story progress to a logical conclusion? Are scenes contrived to create the intended climax and end? Does author intervention skew the story line and ending?
A good beta reader may not fully understand why a scene doesn’t work; she just knows it is not right. By honestly conveying her unease, the author has a chance to take an objective look at the scene, and rework the chapter. With the beta readers’ final critique, the writer makes a last rewrite prior to writing the synopsis and the query letter.
The author’s final read is his assessment of his writing and the quality of the project. His reading must be just as objective as the critique group and beta readers’ perspectives. He must decide if the story is as good as he can make it. He must resist the temptation to over-write and as a result damage the project. Like a parent, the writer must now give wings to his creation. He must submit the work and move on to the next project.