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Posted on April 25, 2013

Here are some more comments from beta readers of Ned Firebreak:

1. Below is the original paragraph.

The dream he was in involved Lil. She flew above a meadow of golden grass. The vegetation swayed in the breeze, coming only up to his knees. He darted toward the princess, determined to snatch her from the air.

Two readers made the same suggestion: His current dream involved Lil. This avoids in involved.

2. One reader is quick to take me to task about when to put my identifiers first so it becomes clearer who's talking. With the telepathic exchange between Ned and the dragon, a simple move of the descriptor to before the thought is clever and simple.

Ned squinted at the dragon. You knew my father?

3. And here's another example of clearing up speaker confusion by moving the identifier to earlier. Here's the original text:

"Careful, one or two of these trees are enchanted. As my sister would say, wouldn't want to cause any true harm to the intelligent foliage, would you?" A princess stepped from out of the shadows of a nearby cluster of brucklenut trees.

The beta reader said: "Careful," a female voice called. "One or two of these trees are enchanted..." (This immediately sets the reader in the right frame of mind – that a woman's voice is calling from somewhere. Otherwise the reader's mental image is delayed, and then it's sort of too late. I once read that a girl walked into a tavern and across to the bar, and THEN it was mentioned she had a limp, which meant the reader had to mentally back up and replay the scene correctly. It's a tiny, tiny detail, but can be vital in setting the scene appropriately so the reader never balks.)

4. Beta readers help tidy up actions that are unclear. The passage below led to some confusion.

"What? Me almost being shot with an arrow?" Ned angled himself away from the sisters and opposite the direction Tekka was aiming at.

The reader said: Sorry, not clear on this. You mean he angled himself away from the sisters and Tekka's target?

Here's what it became:

"Special moment? Me almost being shot with an arrow?" Ned leaned in the opposite direction, determined to situate himself as far away from Tekka's intended target as possible.

I'm in the home stretch with beta reading edits. Another few days and I can do a read through to contract or expand scene.


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