Beta Reader Group discussion

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message 1: by Luralee (new)

Luralee | 65 comments I recently discovered this group after splitting my much too long and convoluted manuscript into three (hopefully) stand alone books.

I have learned so much, both here, and from reading query shark. I have tried writing a query answering the following questions: what does the main character want? What prevents her from getting it? What bad thing will happen if she does? What good thing will happen if she doesn't?

Now I think I have discovered why the first book seems to drag.

Here is my question:
If the main choice is made by another character, not my MC, does that mean my novel has no plot?

The manuscript has stakes, but the main character does not know what they are until the end.


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments It's always OK to be different. You just need to realize that being different means you may find it hard to get representation, or readers if you self publish.

It will boil down to the reader's experience as they read. If they're gripped by your prose, then the fact that 'nothing happens' is irrelevant, they will enjoy reading. No matter how much 'happens,' though, if your prose sucks there is no recovery.

Have you had beta readers yet? What do they say? If you haven't, then I highly recommend getting _at least_ three (and always an odd number, for tie breaking) and see what they think. Sometimes readers will complain right from the opening paragraph. If you can't get your readers to commit long enough to get introduced to your characters, then it doesn't matter how gripping the story gets later, no one will be reading it.

If you have had beta readers and they have enjoyed it, then get their help describing what they liked about it. We have a forum here for help with query/blurb/synopsis, you could post there.

Good luck!


message 3: by Bud (new)

Bud Jillett (budjillett) | 5 comments Luralee wrote: "what does the main character want? What prevents her from getting it? What bad thing will happen if she does? What good thing will happen if she doesn't?."

If you set aside the issue of the "main choice," would you still be able to answer the questions above?

What does the main character want?

Answer that without worrying that another character's choice will have an effect later.

What answer do you come up with?


message 4: by Alex (new)

Alex | 136 comments The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died and then the queen died of grief is a plot. A plot always requires cause and effect. The cause doesn't always emanate from the main character, but the MC will make decisions in regard to the plot. The cause of the queen's grief is the king's death, the grief brings on the queen's death. The plot is all the interlocking causes and effects.


message 5: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Alex wrote: "The king died and then the queen died is a story. The king died and then the queen died of grief is a plot. A plot always requires cause and effect. The cause doesn't always emanate from the main c..."

totally agree, a work that would sell needs cause and effect.

GMC Goal, Motivation and Conflict The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon
GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction provides concise and effective instructions on this very subject. i own the ebook edition.


message 6: by Luralee (new)

Luralee | 65 comments Thank you all who responded. Your suggestions were helpful.


Keith,
I was all set to request beta readers when I realized my MS may have a big crater where the plot should be. I have inadvertently given myself a lot of writing challenges with this project. Some of them could have been avoided if I 'd known about beta readers sooner. I am working to solve them as I find them, but keep finding more.

I guess I'll try posting a blurb/description and see if anyone's interested.

hopefully my prose doesn't suck :)

Bud,
When I answer the questions as you suggest, I find she wants three things: love, music, and answers.

There are things keeping her from getting them, and both good and bad stuff happens when she does get them, so maybe the problem isn't as dire as I feared.

Alex,
There is cause and effect.

Alex G,
Sounds like a book I need. I'll look it up.

Natasha,
Yes, I probably made my MC a little too passive. It is something I am struggling to resolve. She cannot make the Main Choice (To destroy her world or not) but I think I can show better how she is instrumental in driving this choice.

Now I think of it, she does discover part of the stakes about halfway through, but she does not believe it at first.


message 7: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) I have my top 10 writing books that I've read, own, and recommend on my 10-top-writing-guides bookshelf:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list...

oops. i have 11 on there. time to cull.

Ganbatte, Luralee! ^_^


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