Thursday, August 19, 2010

Battle of the Betas

Monday, Kate Hart asked the Twitterverse one of the biggest questions ever*:

Of course people did and Sarah Enni volunteered the first page of her YA sci fi/fantasy manuscript, Flute, for the Beta Battle.

When I beta, I like to know where the victim author has concerns or questions. This isn't saying I won't crit other things as I find them, but I'd hate to read for plot holes when they're only concerned about the tone of the story.

So, I asked Sarah what she wanted the focus on.

I always try to read the piece first without touching anything. If something confuses me or if I really like something, I'll make note, but otherwise I leave pen or keys alone until my second read-through**. On my second go-round, I'll do line edits, write questions, sometimes tell stories. Depending on the person, project, and my attention span I use both Word or longhand.

Since Sarah's piece was one page, I longhanded it.

(Click for larger version.)

My overall thoughts:
Sarah's writing is strong. I have a solid idea of what the funeral home looks like, which is good since it's vastly different from the million I've vistied. She gives a great description of Hana's family home. There's something going on with Hana in regards to her father since he's referred to by his given name and not her father.

The only place where I'm feeling the sci fi or fantasy-ness so far with "a house with a door that shrunk up in the winter and bloated until it wedged in the door frame in the summer." Even though my apartment has similar doors, her description sounds magical. I'm the type of person where the fantasy doesn't have to hit on the first page, so I'm okay with not seeing it here.

I only have one page to work with so it's hard to answer the characterization question, especially when we're in a place where you're not really yourself. Her mom is a mess and Hana is locked up. I can figure out what Hana might look like because of her father's freckles and hair color, but I could also be wrong. I'm curious about the car accident that took out Hana's dad.

This said, I would like to see something more in the opening page, but in terms of what I can't pinpoint. I feel like something needs to happen whether it's action, dialogue, or a zombie raid***. My guess the something happens on page 2 or 3, which if that's the case - great.

Would I read more of Flute? Yep.

Want to see how the other participants beta? Check out Meredith's, Cory's, Kate's, Kathleen's, and Windy's takes on Flute. Don't forget to stop by Sarah's blog and let her know what you think. Or, comment below.

* This is when I got clued in. Reportedly Sarah started the whole thing. 
** The exceptions to this are Nemesis and Philosopher since reading it the first time takes saintly patience as is.
*** Hey, it IS Zombie Thursday. Don't forget to stop by later to see what Miranda has in store. 
________ hit of the day: Something to Believe In by Poison


  1. The bit about the door really threw me. Because I knew it was fantasy, I didn't clue in right away that it was just like the doors in my office and I was totally confused.

    Loved that you did it longhand! Adds a whole other dimension of awesomeness!

  2. Nice comments! I sometimes like to do it old style with the longhand. It's faster for me than Microsoft comments.

  3. @ Kathleen & Cory: I so prefer longhand. I spend enough time in front of the computer when I'm at work so it's nice to be able to unplug at home. Also, it's easier to flip back and double check something on hard copy I find.

    One thing this battle taught me: we seriously have a hive mind.

  4. Great comments.

    And I'm with the others. I love that you still edit longhand. So many of us have been sucked into the all tech stuff :)

  5. LOL it's actually a PIRATE zombie raid. ;)

    I love the longhand edits, it's so old school and awesome. I'd honestly probably beta longhand too.
    Your overall comments are so, so helpful!

  6. Great comments! I'm old school right along with you. I normally do all edits by longhand, my own and those for others.

  7. I think the longhand for me comes from the fact everything was pretty much longhand in my "formative years." That and I'm resistant to change.

    This was fun ladies.


Related Posts with Thumbnails