Posted by: Fiona Skye | 10 December 2009

Mining for Gold

I’m in the process of lining up beta readers for MoC (that’s Murder of Crowes, aka the novel, aka the manuscript).  I’ve got The Man and D, my bestest buddy – two people I know and trust to be gentle in their criticisms.  However, I’m not sure either one of them is capable of completely disinterested, neutral reviews, which is not to say that I don’t value their feed-back.  As already discussed on this blog, The Man is quite capable of giving good feed-back and thanks to some of D’s questions as she read the first half of the book, I’ve been able to add some more insight into Juliana’s (the main character) life.  So clearly they are quite necessary to this whole Writing Odyssey.

But, I’ve decided that I need to get the opinions of strangers – the sorts of people who are the potential readership of this thing.  I put out a little request on Facebook and received offers from two people whom I don’t really know, except that their friends of friends.  Hopefully they’ll be able to give me the sort of feed-back I’m after.

I do wish I belonged to a writing group.  I did once, but I think no one but me and the poor guy who organinsed it took it seriously.  People stopped showing up and then everything fell apart.  I did not receive the kind of support and criticism I was needing at the time, either.  Everyone who read my work said things like, “Oh, I like it” and “It’s good” and “I like how you’ve described things”.

Refining Gold

Beta Readers

Let me tell you right now, Beta Readers, this is not the sort of thing I need to hear.  Yes, I’m quite glad that you like it and that you think it’s good, but I need to know why.  Why do you like my characters?  Why do you like how I’ve described things?  And most importantly of all – what can I do to make it better?  What’s missing?  What don’t you know about the characters that you need to know in order to like them more?  Is everything believable?  Does the way Juliana react to something turn you off?  I need you to really think about what you’re reading and remember that it’s a zero draft – there’s no editing whatsoever.  They’re raw, unrefined words, straight out of my head.  They’re little lumps of gold that need to be leached from the rock that surrounds them, smelted into raw gold and then refined, removing the bits of impurities so we end up with pure gold.  You’re part of that process – you’re the cyanide that dissolves the gold from the rock it’s in.  You’re the 2,100 F furnace that melts the gold and separates it from impurities.

And yeah, I know I spell things weird.  It’s the difference between British English and American English.  Overlook it, all right?



  1. you’re looking for what Orson Scott Card calls a Wise Reader, and so am I. I have a writers group, but none of them reads fantasy, so their comments aren’t too helpful… let me know how the beta-readers from Facebook work, I might copy your idea and try to find my Wise Reader there…
    Thanks for the posts! 🙂

  2. Still hunting for Beta Readers? I’d love to lend an eye! I wish I had a writers group, too. There were several here that spawned during NaNo, but they all but fizzled out and died once December arrived. Unfortunate.

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