Beta-Reading as a Writer

I recently had the opportunity to beta read A. D. Martin’s manuscript for Remnant of Us. It is a YA novel set in the future, long after the United States has been dissolved, and focuses on a teenager whose visions allow her to predict the future (the full blurb for the story is here). It also features one of her classmates, Asher Lay, who meets a girl who sometimes seems real, sometimes seems ghost-like, and other times won’t even appear, despite his efforts.

This was the first time I got to beta-read a manuscript that was anywhere close to being published (Remnant of Us has been sent to a number of agents, some of whom expressed interest in the manuscript), and it was a great experience. As a writer, it was encouraging to see that problems my own stories have had crop up in other people’s stories, too—that things like slow starts and confusing narrative passages happen to the best of us.

And, as a writer, it was intriguing to play around with someone else’s story, thinking about what could be changed to fix these problems. It wasn’t the same thing as writing a story myself, but it was nearly the next best thing. It was a chance to help a story become better (or at least to share my thoughts); hopefully, my feedback, along with that of other readers, gives the author a varied perspective on what, if any, problems the story still has and provides lots of options on how to fix them.

In my own writing, I’ve found that ideas grow best when exposed to the light of other people’s expectations and thoughts. It’s why I offer Writing that Scene as a free service to other authors, to give them an opportunity to receive feedback on sections that are troubling them, and why I enthusiastically support projects like Under the Microscope. When we all help each other, using our distance from the story for the author’s benefit, everyone grows in the process and the story improves.

Copyright 2015 Andrea Lundgren

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