Monday, October 26, 2009

Beta For The Win, and What I Love About Writing

I just got back a copy of my manuscript all marked up in red ink from one of my readers. There is nothing better than sitting down with a copy of my book and seeing all the comments right next to the words and all over the margins. It gets me excited to do revisions, and address those instances where my beta reader wanted more, and I can see why.

I love especially comments that make me see things in a way I hadn't before. A new interpretation of a line that I took for granted that adds depth or meaning. A different perspective on the motivation of a character. I remember once sending a short story out to a reader and having them come back with a response that was completely accurate, but horribly different than the impression I wanted to leave them with. But I loved that element too-- I loved that they saw that emotion, that motivation, that I had missed.

As a writer, my greatest joy is writing something that allows a conversation to follow, a dialogue to ensue. I want my readers to think, and I want them to engage. I want people to stop and consider something they ordinarily wouldn't because of my book, because of my story, because of my characters and the issues they're facing. Maybe that's a big dream. And the likelihood is, that there will be many people who read my work and don't get into the deeper philosophical questions it raises, but as long as a few do, here and there, I think I'll be perfectly happy.

For the record, this is also what I look for in the books I read. Something that makes me think or question or search for more. I want to be challenged. I want to have something to chew on when I'm done. It isn't that I don't like fluff, but I like my fluff to throw me an occasional bone to worry. Some meaning to grapple with.

I sat down and read through all the comments the minute the envelope fell into my hands. I can't wait to take a new look at my book, next. Unfortunately I'm running out of days in October, and National Novel Writing Month is hovering. Revisions might have to wait until December.

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