Feedback Decoder Ring: Character Development

Character development can be a tricky animal. I’ve found myself wondering what makes a character real to me as a reader. With feedback on my own work, I discovered that my beta readers had plenty of differing opinions on the characters.

Someone reading a character is very much like building a relationship. There are characters that I hate, sometimes even the protagonist. There are some I love. Does this mean something? I don’t think it does. What matters is that I care enough to form a relationship and that they are real enough for me to have a definite opinion.

Is this a problem? I think it depends on how popular your character is but I don’t think this speaks to the growth and development of the fictional creature in question.

Today’s Feedback Decoder is going to be exploring the development of character and not necessarily how much the reader likes them unless that pertains to how believable the characters are. In the end, this is the biggest concern for me as a writer.

If you would like to look at my last Feedback Decoder on Clarity, click here. In this one I cover character and their interactions along with general elements of a story.


Believability

I don’t think the character would do that…

Why did this huge thing happen to the character?

Sometimes, I don’t feel like I can connect to this character at all…

I touched on character believability before but wanted to hit on it again because exploring this part of a story, to me, is the most important thing to focus on. If you can’t connect or believe the character’s journey, more likely than not people will not believe your character is developed enough or real.

A good way to tackle this issue would be to have your character go through a variety of emotions, have some flaws, have opinions and ideologies, do things that would make the reader sympathetic, etc.Think about how they became who they are. Think about those resounding things that echo in life. These are the types of things people love.

 

Conflicts

So, is this a big deal?

The character could easily solve this problem…

The answer is obvious… why doesn’t he do this?

Sometimes, the flaws writers envision for their characters don’t come off very well. I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been confused by a character’s actions. Especially if they seem particularly smart or have solved harder issues in the past. It comes off like the writer just got lazy.

If there is a dissonance in the character and people don’t understand why they won’t choose a more obvious solution, make sure to address it and reinforce it. People tend to do this in real life.

 

Internal World

They didn’t seem to have a problem with this until this far in…

I found the inner world of the character boring…

Do they ever think about anything else…

Sometimes a character that has a lot of his thoughts showcased can ping-pong between two trains. (I know it’s a mixed metaphor but I liked it!) This can get redundant. If a character revisits something make sure it’s a new conclusion or a road block of some kind that’s preventing them from progressing. Show a struggle or an epiphany maybe. Variety doesn’t just have to be here are a million opinions… it can be, “I finally understand this…” or “I refuse to accept this because…”

 

Tragedies and Trauma

The character bounced back from that injury too quickly…

Do any of the characters care that the supporting character died?

The character’s reaction to this thing was so melodramatic it annoyed me…

Too little and too much can sum up these issues. How do you know where to draw the line? How much time is enough time? This is when resolution comes in, questions like these aren’t easy to answer.

If you are unfamiliar with the situation, I would recommend talking to people that have gone through the trauma. I’ve never had issue getting people’s feelings and thoughts on these subjects. It seems to help people talk about it and it helps your book to hear it. There are forums online for just about anything in this category. (Just about)

If it is too melodramatic decide if it’s right for your character. If it goes on too long figure out why and if it needs to. Consider having other stuff go on during the crisis to give the reader variety.

 

Happiness and Contentment

The characters seem two-dimensional when they’re happy…

I just wanted to hit them, they are way too perky…

I’m getting bored with this lull where everyone is content…

Writing happiness is hard, people are always waiting for conflict. There are many types of conflict though and things, even if they are idyllic, have issues. Think about what kind of issues would be in this situation or how long the characters need to be shown as happy. It may be the happy moment goes on for too long. It may be the readers don’t understand where there’s a story because things are taking too long to happen. It may be that you just need a bit more conflict in their lives.

 

 

Transformation

I feel like the character did a 180 out of nowhere…

How did the character jump to this conclusion?

I don’t believe the direction this character grew in…

This one is a bit more difficult. There will almost always be people that don’t like the direction your character has gone in… I would listen to this piece of advice only if it’s overwhelming. If some of the examples point to a sudden change with no explanation, that’s when it should be addressed. But again, this one is tricky and I think it’s up to the writer’s discretion more than anything.

I have said this before during beta reading but I still think this is the writer’s choice. The only exception I can think of at the moment is if multiple people tell you it’s hard to follow.

 

Some Key Words for More Character Development:

couldn’t connect, don’t care, why this, too quickly, two-dimensional, undefined, jumped to, unbelievable, melodramatic, boring, who is this, etc.

It’s important, sometimes, to take a step back and think about how a character is evolving. This element of story telling is vital and if the reader doesn’t care about your character one way or the other… it’s a problem. Identifying those moments when you just need more character development can help you bring the reader and the characters closer together.

Having trouble figuring out how to develop a character? I have a ton of blog posts on this subject as well:

Character Questions During Beta Reading

More In-Depth Character Questions for Beta Reading

Reading Characters

If you want to look at more of my crazy ideas on the topic visit my archives!

 

On Beta Reading Killing Off Characters

Character death is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. With my beta reading I had a score of dead characters over a variety of manuscripts. Just the way this week goes, I suppose.

The thing is it has led me to think more about what I need out of character deaths. At first glance, and advice I always dispense with myself, the answer is… make me care. But I’ve changed my mind on some things from some of what I’ve been reading.

 

Extra Deaths

 

In some books, lots of people die. Whole towns, villages, the world. I saw a story that killed a family in front of the MC. A story where some random guy falls out of a building during a board meeting. These kinds of deaths can be awesome and move the story along without any tears… although I have experienced some shock.

Thinking about extras dying made me realize I didn’t need to care about them, just their impact to the story so that brought me to a few other things.

 

Minor Character Death

 

If a minor character is developed and only pops in a couple of times, the death should mean a bit more than an extra. Maybe that minor character stands for something. Maybe that minor character inconveniently dies, at the wrong time, when he has information you really want.

A minor character death is important for what it does to the story. But I can’t think of a time I was crying over this case either. Not a bad thing. Not an unnecessary thing but frankly, we don’t always care when people die.

 

Supporting Character Death

 

A supporting character is a bit different. You’ve built them up. They are a part of your world. You’ve gotten to know them. Sometimes you love them. Sometimes you hate them. Actually… how you feel about them has a lot to do with reader reaction to this situation.

I’ve been relieved when supporting characters have died. I’ve also felt deeply betrayed and upset and a million-other-things it’s so unfair that writers can make me feel.

I’ve learned this about supporting character deaths:

  1. I care if they stand for something. Or symbolize an ideal.
  2. The reactions of other characters tend to impact me more than the moment of death itself
  3. If there isn’t a build up to the death scene where I’m worried they won’t make it, it doesn’t impact me as much when they die

I don’t have to always feel impacted by supporting deaths. Sometimes they just die at the right time and I accept it. This doesn’t bother me, it may bother some though.

 

Main Character Death

 

Recently, I read a book where the main character dies in the beginning and I didn’t feel anything but it was appropriate because it was an “underworld” kind of story. I also read one where at the end the character dies but it didn’t make me care about the death, it made me care about the life. Sometimes, death really isn’t everything but it should be something that I think about later.

If the character death is a pivotal emotional moment for the book there are some things that make me care:

  1. I have to like the protagonist (I’ve read stuff where I liked the supporting characters more than the main character… it made the death seem unimportant and I didn’t react)
  2. The death has to have resounding impact.
  3. There should be a self-assurance in me as a reader that things will be okay even though they are going terribly wrong.

Main character deaths are difficult and their impact has everything to do with my feelings on the protagonist and whether their development is solid.

 

Antagonist Death

 

When an antagonist dies, there’s a whole range of things I could feel. If I don’t know them very well, it does nothing. Villains are varied. Some of them you sympathize with and some of them have you rooting for their destruction. And everything in between. It makes the topic difficult.

There are some things that are crucial:

  1. The lead up. If their isn’t a climax to the moment, it doesn’t work. If the stakes aren’t high (this could be a showdown, a moment of humanity, etc.) it won’t matter.
  2. They need to seem flawed before that point. Their needs to be something in them that is fatal… if not, the death can be unbelievable.
  3. It has to mean something. To someone. Somewhere. It can be good or bad but it has to mean something.

From what I can tell, reading many manuscripts, these deaths are the hardest. Don’t be afraid to like the bad guy a little. Or a lot. It helps.

Hopefully, my antics for today have helped or inspired. I would love to hear what you think/like in a good character death. Thanks always, WordPress family, for letting this blogger vent!

 

More In-Depth Character Questions for Beta Reading

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Wait, you wrote about this before…” And I have, right here! For other posts for questions ideas, visit my archive.

The more time I spend beta reading, the more things I have to say about what I’m seeing in a story. I wanted to talk about character again today because I’ve thought of a bunch of new questions while working on my new book. It’s character driven so my questions have gotten more in-depth. And that’s what this list is for, digging in and exploring reader reaction to the characters you’ve developed.

As always, every question on this list is followed by the question Why?


 

 

Character Growth (Major and Minor)

We’ve talked about the like-ability (because likability creeps me out, it makes me thinking of licking, I know I’m weird) and believability of characters in the past. The thing is character development has a lot of dimension and sometimes whether someone likes them isn’t enough feedback. Sometimes not even the “why” part of the question is enough. Here are some examples:

Did you think the character went through any changes or grew as person by the end of the story?

Were there any moments the character reverted back to who they were in the beginning?

Were any of the changes in the character’s growth too dramatic to believe?

Did the decisions make sense for who they are to you?

What would you say are the most defining personality traits of the character?

Do you feel they were vital to the story and did their growth enrich it?

 

Supporting Impact

The above questions could apply to any character, although if we’re honest we’re most concerned about the big ones. The thing is supporting roles and minor characters can have an impact or be fan favorites… but they must bring something to the story.

How would you describe the relationship between this character and the MC/villain?

Do you feel this character has made an impact on the world/character/plot or could you live without them?

Do you think that this character’s relationship with the protagonist or villain was vital to their growth?

Were there any moments the character seemed unnecessary?

Were there any moments you felt the character served it’s purpose and didn’t need to be in the story any longer?

Any moments where you wondered where a character was or what they were doing?

 

Villain vs. Hero

We’ve talked about this before but we’ll talk about this again. Hero and villain not only need to be believable but more times than not they need to represent some kind of wrongness to each other. Sometimes the deeper philosophical issues or emotional traumas these two inflict on each other gets lost or falls flat. The villains I like best are the ones you can relate to on some level. Now, I understand villains aren’t always bad guys sometimes they can be forces… this section isn’t for that.

How would you describe the relationship between the hero and the villain?

Do these characters stand for something to you as a reader?

Were there moments when you felt compelled by the villain’s point of view?

Do you think that these two characters have a huge effect on each other?

What are your thoughts on this relationship, does it do anything for you in terms of story?

 

Reader Relationship with Characters

Most of the time, it’s easy to gauge a reader’s relationship to the characters in feedback. It’s one of those things we all love to do. And it’s something that makes us want to read the story. But not everyone does that, especially those times when the reader is a line editing type. These types of questions can get very specific so I’ll leave the thought hanging there. Another thing I want to point out though, the feedback sometimes only focuses on characters as individuals and not the interactions. Likewise, sometimes there are turning points in our stories where we really want to know how people feel.

Do you have a favorite character? What about them can you relate to? Does anything bother you about them?

What is your least favorite character? Is there a personality trait? Do they remind you of someone?

When this one thing happens to the character how did you feel?

When this thing happens in this interaction how did you feel?

Do any of the characters make you think? Are you excited to see anyone in particular on the page?

 

Emotional Reactions and the Character

Let’s face it… we want it. Knowing how the reader feels is crucial in our process and it’s one of the reason we invest so much time in our work. We want people to feel something. And hopefully, if we do our job right, it’s something in the right direction. This one could go on forever… I should post on this. 🙂

When were you most (insert emotion here)?

Are there any scenes that seemed like you should feel something but didn’t?

Were there moments of boredom, impatience, skimming?

Is there a character you felt like got you? How did you respond to their actions/decisions?

Was there anyone in the story you wished you could be like?

 

Milestones for Character Development

There are moments of transformation in any book. Sometimes it’s a scene. Sometimes a line. But it’s there. A moment when they evolve… but do your readers catch it? It’s important they do.

What do you think were the biggest turning points for this character?

Did you see their development going in a predictable direction?

Were you excited to see how they evolved?

How do you feel about their evolution?

 

Themes and the Character

I’ve covered this one in the past but sometimes plots are more layered than they first appear. There are some basic questions that can give the writer a lot of insight into their story. I’m not talking about the movement of events here, I’m talking themes.

What do you think are the overall themes of the story? Do you think they were done well?

What made this story worth your time?

How do you think the characters tackled these themes?

Do the characters work with the themes of the work?

 

Dialogue and the Character

Stories really have two types of conversation. The characters interacting with each other and the characters interacting with themselves. Both act as powerful demonstrations of who these people are. And both deserve some serious questions.

Did the dialogue between the characters serve the story well?

Were there any character interactions that didn’t work for you?

Do any of the characters ever lose their voice?

When exploring a character’s inner world do they have any moments that hit you?

How about moments where it didn’t work?

 

Setting and the Character

Settings tend to be a reflection of the world and the characters within it. It’s a package because we are impacted by the world/culture/etc. that we live in. This isn’t about me writing a diatribe on nature vs. nurture but it is something to take into account when placing characters in a world.

Does the world reflect the themes of the story?

Were there moments when the characters felt out of place?

Were there moments when the world and the characters blended in a way you liked?

Did you feel that the character fit in the settings they were placed in?

If there were moments when they didn’t fit in how did you feel about it? Was it addressed?

 

 

Feedback Decoder Ring: Clarity

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from all over the place. I do a lot of beta reading. I give a lot of critiques too. It had me thinking as I went over all of my feedback that I needed a decoder ring for understanding what I’m getting. I thought you might too.

Today’s subject is clarity. I think a lot of people have issues with clarity somewhere in their manuscript. It’s something I’ve seen often enough to choose this first. The elements are divided up by areas I have seen the most often, in my work and others. If something needs clarity there are some key words and questions that signal a need to flesh something out more.

Character

I wish there was more…

This character feels two-dimensional…

I don’t feel like this character would do this…

This aspect of this character doesn’t ring true….

 

Sometimes when people are asking questions, or making statements similar to these, it either isn’t working or the character isn’t clear enough for them to feel their distinctive personality. Thinking in terms of “how to make this more clear” as opposed to “man, I really suck”… has been a very helpful tool for me when it comes to this kind of feedback.

 

Character Interaction

Are these characters related or romantically involved?

I’m not getting a good sense of their relationship…

The protagonist and the antagonist aren’t believable when they interact…

I like the supporting characters more than the main character…

 

Character interactions can be tricky. Making things more clear for the reader, unless the writer intends not to, can really flesh out those problem areas. More times than not one or both of the characters in an interaction aren’t believable, or their relationship is confusing, because there’s a lack of development and details.

 

Action

The scene feels too rushed…

I got confused about who was doing what…

How did that weapon (or whatever) come out of nowhere…

I don’t have a good sense of the arena…

 

Although it’s true an action scene should feel fast paced, too fast is upsetting. Action is, from what I can tell, about being on a fine line. If it’s rushed perhaps build up the atmosphere more or the character responses. If the choreography is too confusing I recommend acting it out. If a weapon or tool comes out of nowhere consider how it got there and how you can add that information in. Setting is really helpful to add believability to the scene.

 

Death Scenes

I didn’t care about this character dying…

This character died too fast…

The other characters didn’t even react to this death..

There was no build up to this death…

 

If a character is going to die, value their life. They are leaving a whole world behind with enemies and friends. Death should have the gravity, on the page, that the decision took. The clarity the reader is looking for in this instance is to understand and feel why this happened. A lot of times a death falls flat when you don’t see it or their isn’t a build-up to the moment. Characters need to react. More than one. Why should we care if nobody in their world does?

 

Setting

I didn’t get a sense of the setting…

How far away are these locations?

What’s the world like?

I wish there were more setting description…

 

It’s always hard for me as writer to find that line between too many details and too little. Setting is like that. I love words. I would love to go on and on about some aspect of nature or build a complete picture of a room. No one wants to read all of that though. However, if people don’t see anything, the world is empty and people won’t want to read a story in an empty world.

 

Plot

I don’t understand this time jump…

How did the characters go from this to that?

The twist didn’t seem very believable…

The transition in this part was confusing or not believable…

 

Transitions and twists can be tricky. It needs to be the right amount to pull it off. Timing is everything. If you find yourself getting feedback along these lines, the transition needs to be smoother or it needs to be established that a lot of time has passed. Not making things like this clear can snap a reader out of the story. Or they may get frustrated and set the book down.

 

Some Key Words for Clarity:

confusing, awkward, lost, unbelievable, wish, didn’t get a sense of, didn’t care, rushed, where, out of nowhere, what’s going on, etc.

 

There are plenty of times when I’m writing that I think I’m making things clear. But translating your thoughts to the page isn’t always as easy as it initially seems.

Sometimes an awkward sentence or confusing conversations only need a few words for clarity. Other times, like above, we need to take a step back from the story and really think about how it’s evolving.

Book Review: Santa Muerte (The Daniela Story Book #1) by Lucina Stone

cover


 

 

Santa Muerte is an interesting read. It has an expansive world with different races, time travel, and witches. It’s about a girl that ends up in the 1920’s after a failed suicide attempt. The protagonist is the child of two moms that escapes one blunder after another in her effort to get back to her own year in 2030.

 

World

 

The world is well developed with different creatures and magic. It was consistent but there were moments I wish I saw it better. The magical world in the story was convincing and fascinating to read about. We learn about its elements with the protagonist and her family. The book finishes with enough loose ends to make you want to pick up the next one.

The only major thing that bothered me about the world was technology didn’t feel developed enough or realistic enough for fifteen years from now. It felt like the future was more like the present for me.

 

Characters

 

The characters I enjoyed were often secondary characters. It was hard for me to handle how dense the protagonist was but she seems to pull herself together more by the end of the book. I would read the next one to see how this character evolves because the hardest part to handle was how hard it was for her to adapt to her circumstances.

 

Plot

 

The plot was definitely the most entertaining aspect of the story. I enjoyed the journey and it kept me reading. The only loose thread I can think of is when the cop on the case of finding the missing protagonist kind of falls off without resolution. However, the set up for the next book was enticing enough for me to consider reading the next one.

 

Verdict

 

If you enjoy urban fantasy, time travel, and social commentary in your books… this is a good one to pick up. There were many elements I enjoyed and it wasn’t a hard read. I am excited for the next book because I want to see how the world will grow and how the characters will grow too.

 


 

If you want to purchase Santa Muerte check it out!

Amazon

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If you want to connect with the author::

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On Beta Reading The Wrong Genre

Imagine your best friend or spouse pushes you into doing something you aren’t interested in doing. They are so passionate about this new activity/project/hobby you do it anyway because… hey, you love them. That doesn’t mean this will ever be something that moves you.

Beta reading the wrong genre or a story that doesn’t interest you is like that except you think you’re just reading something different.

It’s easy to help with the technical aspects of the writing but I wouldn’t say it’s easy to give good developmental advice on a genre you don’t read.

I don’t read westerns. I think the closest I came was reading a quarter of a book by Louis L’Amour and half of Gunslinger (And I don’t think Stephen King counts for the genre…ROFL). I accept it isn’t my genre. My perspective may offer some gems here or there but for the most part, it probably wouldn’t hold my interest.

If a book is good enough that I want to read it even though it isn’t my genre (which is awesome in those cases where it happens) I still inform the author I don’t usually read books like theirs. And most are flattered by that admission but it also gives them different expectations for your feedback.

I’m an avid reader of science fiction. Some of the writing in this genre can be a little dry and a lot of times it’s written in Omni POV (I can think of a few recent exceptions like The Hunger Games but for the most part). The fact that I know what to expect stepping into this genre gives me the patience as a reader to wait for the world to develop. Or the style of writing to grow on me.

With my novel, I had trouble locating the right readers. It’s out of my genre so I had to figure out where my market was. And taking the time to read other things that are similar has also really helped with my process.

For a girl that’s used to complex world development and action, literary was a bit a harder for me to wrap my head around. It’s still a work in progress.

I’m not saying readers should never read outside of their comfort zone, it can expand your horizons and make you think about stories in a different way. There is something challenging. But I will warn you, your expectations of the story will probably be different if you are used to a different genre.

If you find yourself reading something that holds no value to you though — stop reading it. Writers can accept when it just isn’t your cup of tea.When it isn’t your genre. There have been a few books lately I’ve had to turn down because I realized I couldn’t realistically help them.

The world of writing is vast and there are many interesting stories out there. If you want to beta read, make sure you’re reading stuff you believe in because not everything can be the right thing for you.

Believing in the story makes me as a beta reader passionate about helping the writer I’m working with is worth everything in the world.

 

Beta Reader Interview: Cynthia

So excited! Recently I got to interview a beta reader! I enjoyed interacting with Cynthia and she was very prompt in response. This interview was so much fun. 🙂

Thanks for hanging out with us here at TheBetaReaderBlog!


What inspired you to start blogging?

My love of books! I have always been an avid reader and I absolutely love pushing books on people! The big reason why I wanted to start my blog was to meet others who love books as much as I do. I absolutely love the book blogging community and I am so happy to be a part of it.

What do you blog about? How would you describe your site?

I blog about books, books and more books! I post reviews and discussions. My site is a way for me to flail madly about all the books that I love. And yes, I also point out criticisms of books that I didn’t like so much.

You mentioned to me you’re interested in beta reading… What made you decide to dip into this awesome world?

Have I mentioned I love reading?? I write a lot of reviews and I hate having to write a negative review. Obviously, tastes are subjective and there are times when negative reviews cannot be helped. The worst thing is to write a negative review based on things that could have been improved, like pacing and character development. I have read and reviewed so many books and I would love the opportunity to work with writers on how they may improve. I want to make sure that when a book is published, it is the best that it can be.

Have you beta read anything yet?

I am in the process of beta reading my first manuscript. I have several authors who have submitted beta read requests, but I still have openings for more.

What do you think you could contribute to a writer’s work?

I can critique your manuscript both from a writer’s perspective and a reader’s perspective. I know what it takes to write a book and I know how tough that process can be. I hope to contribute an objective opinion and some constructive criticism, as well as some positive feedback about the things I love about your work!

Do you have a favorite genre or many? Which ones?

I read just about everything, but my absolute favorites are Young Adult and Fantasy.

Favorite Book? Favorite Author? Why?

This question is so incredibly hard!! I have so many favorite books, but I will try to keep it to my top three: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay.

Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. There is no one who can write dystopian quite like she can. I think I love Jane Eyre so much because I can relate to the heroine. She is smart and feisty and is not afraid to stand up for herself. The Sea of Tranquility is my favorite Young Adult novel ever. The writing is beautiful and the characters are so well developed. I have read this one more than once and it makes me cry every time.

Can writers contact you for a book review? Where can they see guidelines?

Unfortunately, I am not accepting review requests at this time. Between the ARCs that I receive for my blog and the beta read requests, I am a little overwhelmed right now.

Do you have guidelines for beta reading yet? What are they?

As I stated above, my favorite genres are Young Adult and Fantasy. I also love reading Paranormal/Dystopian, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Romance. I am open to reading other genres as well. The only genres I don’t read are fanfiction and religious fiction.

Below are my submission guidelines:

  • Email me at bingeingonbooks@yahoo.com

  • Include in the subject line “Beta Reading Request,” along with the genre, age group for your manuscript and number of words

  • In the body of the email, include the synopsis of the manuscript, along with the due date that you would need the feedback by.

  • Also include any specific concerns you would want me to address in my beta read. 

From there, I will decide if I can take your manuscript. I will ask for the manuscript in Word form so that I can make any changes.

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at bingeingonbooks@yahoo.com or visit my Beta Reading Services page at http://bookbinges.blogspot.com/p/editing-and-beta-reading-services.html

What do you hope to get out of beta reading?

I hope to create a wonderful relationship with new authors and give them some advice on how to improve. I just love to read and I want to make sure that your book is everything it can be. I know from first hand experience that it can be tough to edit your own work. Sometimes an author needs a fresh pair of eyes and I would love to be those eyes!


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Check out her blog!

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If you want to connect with Cynthia:

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Scriggler.com: A Site that Took Me Awhile to Figure Out

So, originally I thought Scriggler would be a site where I could get some feedback on my work. While that is certainly possible it wouldn’t be an in-depth study of your work. It’s in the form of comments and likes, no critiques.

Scriggler is a way for writers to showcase their work. They promote it on Twitter and help you build a following. It refers to itself as a “writing and blogging community”.

Within Scriggler you can write opinion pieces, stories, and poetry. There are groups and tons of ways to socialize. It gives you a lot of material from other writers to read.

For my part, I’ve only been posting poetry on there. It seems like a good way to grow readership. I am unsure if it would be just as useful for a novel but that’s something some one else would have to decide.

For a while I had trouble navigating the website. Changing settings on my profile was the biggest issue I had. Given my frustrations, it was enough for me not to really commit my time on this site. But just because it’s not for me, doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be helpful for another writer out there somewhere.

I don’t think I gave the site a good shake. It seems like the community on Scriggler is very supportive. I will say this much, on this site you can talk about all manner of controversial things and it would definitely help you build a platform with your work.

If anyone else has used it, it would be great to hear your thoughts!

Book Review: Firetok by Gordon A. Wilson

cover and blurb


 

Firetok is a fast paced read. It kept me reading and I found it a nice change of pace. If you like horror and the darker side of the human condition, this is for you. The world was gritty and intriguing. It had interesting commentary. It made you think. The characters were interesting and the settings were very well laid out.

There are supernatural elements that felt believable and it kept treading the line between darkness and light. I’m glad Gordon A. Wilson shared his work with me and I would read it again.

 

World

 

It’s got elements of realism to it. The story of Firetok is earth-bound. It’s presented in a way that feels very matter-of-fact. And that made it come across as very substantial.

 

Characters

 

The characters were very tough in their own ways. It was easy to sympathize and root for the main character. The bad guys were really bad. And the characters that supported the protagonist were likeable and I couldn’t wait to see them on the page. At times, the characters had poignant conversations that I really enjoyed reading.

 

Plot

 

The plot at times was non-linear. I had moments where I wondered when it would wrap around but it didn’t frustrate me enough to stop reading. The journey of getting there was interesting and compelling enough to keep going. Everything wraps up very nicely so there was no disappointment. It really was a fun thrill ride if you don’t mind being uncomfortable sometimes when you read it 🙂

Verdict

 

I enjoyed the themes and the points about issues in our society it covered. It had supernatural elements that were very realistic and down-to-earth. If you are a fan of horror or like books that make you think, this one is a great read.

 


 

Today is a very special day (February 25,2016) Gordon is giving away free copies to promote his book!

Get it!

Amazon

author bio

If you want to keep up with Gordon A. Wilson

Firetok Blog  .  Facebook  .  Twitter

 

 

Building A Beta/Writer Relationship

I can’t speak for all betas but I like to get to know my writers. Not only does it become a very close and amazing relationship but it also makes it easier during the beta reading process.

These are some important things to consider when fostering this relationship. I wrote about it a little bit in

Submissions, Feedback and Beta Reading Etiquette

 

Gratitude

 

Sometimes when people critique our work we get defensive. I’ve been known to do it myself. But as someone who critiques all the time as a lifestyle… I can tell you… It’s hard to critique.

As a writer, it’s important for me to remember how hard it can be to share my work. And scary. And uncomfortable. As a beta, I have to remember that it took that same courage for someone to share theirs with me.

The simple act of showing gratitude no matter what side you fall on is very important. It’s amazing how far the simple practice of saying “thank you” can go.

 

Courtesy

 

When I send off a manuscript or piece of one to a reader, I’m anxiously waiting for a response. Sometimes a response never comes.

If you want to build a good relationship meeting deadlines and telling the other party what you are looking for (in terms of time commitment) is very helpful. It’s hard when no one knows what’s going on.

 

Honor

 

A lot of writers worry about plagiarism or people sharing their work with a bunch of people. This should go without saying but don’t do it.

 

Trust

 

When you develop a long term relationship with a writer you’re helping them with their craft. There is a certain level of trust that goes along with it. That is a great responsibility. What are some great practices to ensure you are a writer’s friend?

  • Even if you like the writer, if something isn’t working in their story tell them.
  • If you didn’t feel something or the pacing is off, tell them
  • You don’t have to tear someone down to give them criticism. I like to ask questions or maybe give a few different examples when I give advice on what I’ve read.
  • They aren’t there because they need you to stroke their egos (unless they deserve it). They are working with you to make the best book possible. Don’t forget it!

 

Communication

 

As I’ve stated previously and in many different ways, communication is absolutely the most important thing. If something about the relationship is bothering you, straighten it out — it can effect your critique. If something with the work is bothering you voice it, that’s why you’re there.

 

Manuscript Exchange

 

Sometimes offering to read for your beta readers, if they are writers, is good form. If someone does you a favor, offering one in return is polite. If they turn it down, it’s okay. They’ll remember you cared enough to ask to begin with.

Everything else develops organically. And I’m sure this short list doesn’t cover every possible bit of advice I could impart but I have a whole blog for that 🙂

I have plenty of posts about the Beta/Writer relationship in my archives. If you can’t find an answer to your problem there… feel free to ask me about it. I’m sure you aren’t the only one experiencing it and I never reveal my sources (unless you want me to!)