Nelli is currently beta-reading Demi-Monde 3 and I would implore every would-be writer to find themselves a beta-buddy like Nelli. Nelli is BRILLIANT at reviewing and commenting on my stories, and not just because her command of the grammatical and spelling niceties of the English language is so much better than mine. No sir!
It was when we were driving to Derby this morning after dropping the girls off at school – a terrific time to discuss things: no distractions – and got to talking about DM 3 that her real importance to me as a writer was brought home. She’s almost finished reading the book and I started quizzing her with the usual questions: which bits worked and which didn’t; which characters resonated and which didn’t; what did she like and what did she hate...that sort of stuff. And having someone you trust to be perfectly frank and honest giving the answers is invaluable to a writer. But more, because Nelli is a woman she was able to give me a fresh perspective on the story.
She was particularly taken by a comment Misha made at Renegade Writers that female readers – especially younger female readers – are less than enthusiastic about sex in books. Nelli concurs and hence made the observation that some of the scenes in DM3 were too raunchy by half. Thinking about it I suspect she’s right, so I’ll tone them down a tad.
She also thought that one of the new characters – I won’t name him ‘cos it’s a spoiler – swore too much. I had written him a certain way but again she’s probably correct and I’ve decided to amend him slightly. It’ll take a heap of new research into idioms and patois but I’ve a feeling it’ll be worth it. A much more interesting character will, hopefully, emerge.
Finally she told me she thought one of the pivotal scenes – loads of exposition, folks – is too long. I suspected it might be but I thought it was so damned smart – hubris! – that I was loath to cut it. Now I see I’m gonna have to be brutal...pace is everything.
All-in-all that conversation has earned me about a week’s extra work on the keyboard, but I’ve a feeling the book will be better for it at the end. And that’s why every writer needs a beta-buddy: a beta-buddy you can trust, a beta-buddy who isn’t afraid to speak their mind and, ideally, a beta-buddy who is of a different gender and age-group to yours.
Good luck...I managed to marry mine.