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WHY YOU NEED BETA READERS: PART TWO

Posted on April 13, 2013

Beta readers deliver such good observations and offer wonderful solutions. I love you guys! Here are a few more changes to Ned Firebreak.

1. Beta readers can spot words that are repeated too often. Below, hard was used here and in a previous sentence:

It was so hard , being a normal fourteen-year-old boy and being surrounded by princesses. Why was the burden of valor and integrity draped so heavily over his young shoulders?

I changed it to difficult in the second instance.

2. A reader said this about the first two sentences in the paragraph below: I'd choose one or the other of these two sentences.

Don't be so wounded. Don't get mired in your pride. Very unbecoming of a Firebreak.

I took out the first sentence. I loved the word mired too much to part with it.

3. A beta reader wondered about Ned's physical abilities: What happened to his vertigo? Seems like he'd still be taking things a little slower.

Here's what I think: Ned has just stirred from a magical slumber. Yes, his movements should be sluggish, but he has tons of adrenalin running through him from the events in the previous dream sequence, so I figured he'd soldier forward, aches and stiffness be darned.

Here's the original paragraph:

A quick inspection of the room turned up no footwear. He raced out and down the hall. He took the steps two at a time and leapt the last four or five to land on all fours in a room that looked like a large meeting hall. Aunt Nance rushed toward him, an impressive grey sword in her hand.

I added a small detail to indicate his unsteadiness:

A quick inspection of the room turned up no footwear. He raced out and down the hall. He took the steps two at a time and leapt the last four or five to land on all fours in a room that looked like a large meeting hall, ignoring how wobbly he felt. Aunt Nance rushed toward him, an impressive grey sword in her hand.

4. Beta readers make a difference a sentence at a time. The original sentence read like this:

The quill tigers parted, giving the larger cat room.

Here's the sentence the reader suggested and I snapped up:

The quill tigers parted, giving the larger cat the space it demanded.

Much more in character and imposing.

5. The section below was called out for sounding too lawyer-y, which I agree with.

"They won't need to. They'll file paperwork, tons of it. They'll hurl endless injunctions at us. And just like that, no one in the village will do business with us. Forget anyone letting us shop for food and supplies."

In this case, I took the beta readers wonderful sentence suggestions. It now reads like this:

"They won't need to. They'll petition the nobles with their grievances and as sympathetic as they are to our work, the lords can't be seen as encouraging nonpayment of debts. And just like that, no one in the village will do business with us. Forget anyone letting us shop for food and supplies."

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