Welcome to your Friday Morning FYI (it’s probably easier to write these every week than having to do three at a time to catch up, but I’ve been busy so whatevs edition) – my chance to share observations/wisdom/rants in short, easily consumed form.
I’m a huge believer in enlisting beta readers for your work (more on this in the next few FYIs, too). They find big plot holes you didn’t know were there, and also the small details you missed/omitted/denied, which, if you agree need addressing, sharpen your story with minimal changes. I had one of these in my new novel, around a character smoking at the beginning but then never having another cigarette. I had a reason for that, which I thought I made clear, but obviously hadn’t. Good catch, easily fixed, and potentially quite important. Let’s have that be our FYI for this week:
I’ve seen writers say to their beta readers, ‘Just look for big stuff’. This is a mistake because it’s often the little details you, as the writer, think are meaningless that pull a reader out of your story. This happened to me, in a published book I was reading a few months back – one detail about a subject with which I’m quite familiar, that was dead wrong. I found its wrongness so distracting I abandoned the book. That might sound dumb, and maybe you’re thinking I should have let it go (and you might be right), but the fact is, as a reader, it made me walk away.
So, writers, don’t restrict what your beta readers can report, and don’t dismiss out of hand the little details they find confusing/wrong. Readers aren’t always right, but at least you’ll get to see what they’re seeing and have the chance to make a choice on the matter.
Thanks for reading,