It’s a brand new year and so time to make resolutions! But let’s be honest, most resolutions frankly suck. They’re something vague about loosing weight or being a better person or goodwill towards humanity. You can easily ignore these resolutions when they fail because they were not attainable to begin with, or pretend that they were achieved just resolving to be generically better.
The key to a good resolution is to make it specific, tangible and realistic. Like mine.
In 2011, I resolve to finish a novel and have it on the desk of an agent. This is a 2 parter, and as such has 2 deadlines. The first, to finish a novel, is very tangible and attainable. If I write a certain number of words a day, I can have a novel length manuscript done in 6 months. This is not as arbitrary a deadline as it may at first seem. The second deadline, getting the finished, polished manuscript on the desk of an agent is a bit more subjective, as it’s reliant on the first being completed in a timely manner. I’m confident though that I can make this deadline, but to get there, I’m going to need help. That’s where you come in.
Yes, you, the person at the other end of this computer screen, whose eyes are reading these words right now.
I’m going to need guinea pigs beta readers to help me stay on target and reach my goal. A beta reader is someone who likes to read, (science fiction, specifically) who wants to be a part of the creative process (because it’s fun) and above all, a beta reader is someone who has a well-manicured pedantic streak. If you have an eye peeled for typos, like to quibble about grammar and come out of a movie plotting all the ways the writers could have told the story better, than you are who I’m taking about. Dear pedants: your finely tuned eye and perspicacity is not a curse, but a virtue, one I wish to exploit for the mutual gain of the world! Or at least me.
So, how this works: I send you, dear beta readers, part of the manuscript every 2-3 weeks. your job will be to do your thing and read the story, looking for grammatical and continuity errors, writing notes asking questions and generally acting as a spare set of eyeballs and remote brains, using your finely honed instinct as habitual editors and creative types to make this the best novel it can be. Finally you get to look over an author’s shoulder and tell them what they’re doing wrong! You’ve wanted to do this your whole life and now I’m offering you the chance. Let’s fulfill our dreams together!
1. I loose my job in six months and I’m tired of doing other things, badly, and writing as a hobby. Hence, the six month deadline. My true, not-so-secret resolution is to become a professional writer this year. That’s the new job I plan to start July 1st. This means finances will be…creative this year. But so be it. I wanted to loose weight anyway, and starving is a kind of diet. So see, it’s a traditional resolution after all!
2. I’m planning on using Google Docs to track comments and changes, though I can arrange to deliver hard copies to those of you who live in the Portland metro area.