Beta-Reader Update #4

Well, my beta-reader has finished her review of Not Famous.

My beta-reader gave me a lot of insightful and useful  criticism. I’d love to share it all with you, but some of it reveals some key plot points and I don’t want to share spoilers… but she did complimented the the  “excellent story” and “strong characters,” which I was happy to hear.

There were also areas she saw room for improvement.

As I’ve mentioned before, she felt the main character was unlikable at times and she suggested ways to improve that.

And then there was this:

Another issue is quite common, especially in first novels: The first part moves slowly and awkwardly. It’s because you’re getting to know these people and this place yourself, so you have to explain everything to yourself as you go along. But by the time you’ve finished the book, you’ve gotten to know everything. Now you can go back to the beginning and get rid of anything that sounds pedestrian and explanatory. Trust me, the story will work fine without it.

Readers will get to know your characters from hearing their words and watching their behavior, just like in real life. Now, as you reread your ms, you’ll probably start to notice redundancies and unnecessary explanations. Say/explain something once, then delete subsequent mentions. You could really shave a lot of extraneous words from the first third or so of this book.

So, that’s what I’m doing now… I’m going through addressing her comments throughout the manuscript and trying to find areas to tighten up. As Stephen King wrote in On Writing, “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” What he meant is that sometimes great lines that we’ve written and fell in love with sometimes have to go. For sake of pacing, I now have the task of trying to locate strings of prose and dialogue that, while I find great and successful, must go. The manuscript was clocking in at nearly 110,000 words… which is a bit long. My goal at this point is to try to get it close to 100K… which is still long, I know, but I don’t realistically believe that I will want to trim beyond that. I’ve so far managed to shave off 2,000 words by killing redundancies or axing portions that are unnecessary for readers to endure.

So, I’m gonna read over this manuscript a number of times to make sure I tighten this up as much as possible before sending it off to the next beta-reader.

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