Quick (yeah, sure) thoughts on round 1 of #QueryKombat 2017

I’m participating in #QueryKombat this year. If you’re not familiar, Query Kombat is an annual competition run by this writer and this writer and this writer, where you submit your query and the first 250 words of your novel. For the first round, 64 selected Kombatants are paired off to go one-on-one (shout out to O.C. Shaw, who is a friendly and gracious writer whose book I want in my life). Judges read your entries, offer constructive criticism, and declare a victor. Get enough votes and you move on to the Agent Round where literary agents review your entry and decide if they want to ask for more pages, and then round 2. Entries can be updated before the agents get to see it.
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Friday Morning FYI – 3/10/2017

Welcome to your Friday Morning FYI (it’s like we’re going back in time edition) – my chance to share observations/wisdom/rants in short, easily consumed form.

Not only do I heart my beta readers, I also enjoy beta reading for others. It’s an honor to have people ask me to help improve there stuff, and something I take seriously. Over the last month, I’ve beta read two novels and a bunch of short fiction. I’ve got another novel coming my way shortly, which I look forward to savaging reading and annotating. Let’s make that our FYI for this week:

No one’s writing is perfect. Don’t be afraid of that, either as someone showing your work to someone else or as someone reviewing another writer’s story. As much as you may need to hear what’s wrong with your story so you can fix it, you need to tell others what’s wrong with their work for the same reason. We’re all just trying to get better. Honor that with honesty (without being a d!ck) and forthrightness (but not abuse), and ask for the same.

 

Thanks for reading,

{RDj}

Friday Morning FYI – 3/3/2017

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,

{RDj}

Friday Morning FYI – 2/10/2017

Welcome to your Friday Morning FYI (milking this beta reader thing for all it’s worth edition) – my chance to share observations/wisdom/rants in short, easily consumed form.

Beta reader feedback for my new novel is flowing in. I’m truly grateful to everyone who agreed to take part, and for all their useful, thoughtful comments and time commitment. That leads us to this week’s FYI:

Helping out a friend with a creative endeavor is one of the best ways to let them know you respect what they’re trying to do. That can be something as simple as lugging paint cans to their studio or as time consuming as reading their 100K words novel and sharing your thoughts. Whatever it is, if you do it, know it’s both appreciated and invaluable – often beyond words.

 

Thanks for reading,

{RDj}