A Writer’s Call for Help

I’m coming to the realization that I’m not as strong of a writer as I thought I was.

Image result for barbossa belay that

New version, demanded by the good Captain: I’m not as strong of an editor as I thought I was, which, in turn, makes me come off as a worse writer than I actually think I’m capable of.

And I may need your help to fix that.

I’ve got a few books under my belt. I have enough ideas to keep me writing for the rest of my life. I’m unpublished and I thought, with how much editing I’ve been doing in my stories this past year, that I was getting closer to entering back into the querying stages, re-experiencing that sliver of stress I did years ago waiting for agents to respond and praying that my dream will come true by taking that first step and signing a contract with one of them. My mentality is so ready to go back into those trenches. I actually find myself eager to work on queries and synopsis’s (<– is that right for the plural form of synopsis? I honestly have no idea).

Yet as I receive feedback from respected peers and colleagues, I’m realizing that I need to slow down a bit. I need to let my writing catch up with my mentality, my eagerness, my desire to keep moving forward in my writing career, my desperation to make it. Because I’m not there yet. The writing quality is there, I think. I think I’ve gotten enough positive feedback from teachers and mentors and peers who aren’t related to me by blood to believe, without feeling cocky or arrogant in the process, that I do have a knack for this writing thing. Even if I don’t and I’ve fooled myself, I’m stubborn enough to keep at it, anyway. I’ll be writing until I’m dead. I’m not worried about my imagination, either. Some of my plotlines are clichéd, sure, but that’s all to subjective taste, anyway. And besides, I don’t think my brain is going to run out of idea anytime soon, either, so there is always room to improve on clichéd plotlines.

So if I’m confident (as much as this insecure human can be confident in anything) in my writing ability and my imagination, where am I falling short? I claim in editing, but how? Honestly, I’m still not 100% sure. Perhaps naively, each draft I read, I fall more and more in love with it. Sure, I nitpick, but I don’t rip it apart like I probably should. I think my issue is that I don’t do a lot of in-depth editing. For example, I don’t do a round for tone, do a round for consistency, a round for plot, etc. I just read through the manuscript and try and make it better.

Obviously, I got some improving to do myself.

Because my writing? It’s everything to me. And if I’m not willing to be flexible and change myself in order to help it improve, then am I really doing enough for it?

Yet I also know this: I’m in love with these stories. I’m attached. Not only that, but I’m attached to how they are written, what scenes are included, how my characters act. I enjoy reading them. And I’d be totally okay with sending my stories (well, most of them) out into the world as they are now and hope that others might enjoy them, too. But just because I enjoy them doesn’t mean that these stories have reached their full potential. Far from it. And I want them to reach that full potential. These stories deserve that chance. Yet I think I am too blind by love to see the areas where they could improve.

That’s where another eye comes in.

Possibly, that’s where you come in.

This is my plea for help, my friends. I need beta readers. But not just any ole beta reader. I’m serious about my writing and my stories and I want to improve my craft. I want beta readers willing to be just as serious. Beta readers who would be willing to give in-depth feedback. Beta readers willing to offer thought-out advice and honest criticism that doesn’t make me feel like I need to go work in retail the rest of my life because my writing is obviously atrocious, i.e., blunt and truthful, but delivered in a respectful manor to this author whose skin still isn’t as thick as it needs to be. Beta readers willing to form a partnership, of sorts; willing to look over a revised draft in the future, listen to rants over Twitter messages when I doubt myself and, if they are comfortable, willing to potentially one day let me read their work and offer the same amazing and wonderful feedback in return.

Interested?

I have two books that will both be ready by November 1st that I want to send out to five different people each, with the hopes that these readers could get me feedback back by the January 1st (this deadline is very flexible, however). Below, I’ll give some brief info on each book. If you’re interested, have the time available and are gracious enough to offer me your opinions and dedication, shoot me an email and tell me why you’d like to beta read whichever book you’ve chosen: nicoleevans961@gmail.com. If I pick you, in a sense*, I’ll email you on November 1st with the manuscript, a copy of the query and a small questionnaire to help guide your feedback to send my way. And then let the partnership begin!

Book One: THE RESISTANCE
Genre: Light Science Fiction
Age Range: A
WC: 75,000
Premise: Caught in a world gone colorblind after 95% of the population is killed, Grayson Price is forced to chose between giving into extinction and searching for his girlfriend to spend his final days with or try to eradicate his own ignorance and assist the last fighting force attempting to preserve humanity from death and harvestation.

Book Two: ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE MARRIAGE QUEST (Title Under Review)
Genre: Fairy Tale Retelling within an Urban Fantasy
Age Range: A
WC: 75,000
Premise: Artemis Smith is clichéd in every aspect of his life, the worst being within his writing. Almost 30 finished manuscripts to his name and not a single publication to show for it. At 67 years old, Artemis’s dream of writing for a living risks disappearing as easily as he could. When a magical being opens his eyes to this harsh realization and offers to help him overcome his failings by transporting him into clichéd stories as an actual character, Artemis doesn’t hesitate. Slipping into a fairy tale as Terrowin Bane, Artemis attempts to adjust to living as two people inside one mind while balancing his life as a knight–and the threats that follow–and his own quest to destroy the clichés that abound.

Thank you in advance for anyone who offers and to all the poor amazing souls that end up becoming my first beta readers for these stories. Even as a writer, words cannot express my gratitude and the debt that I owe you for your time, your insight and your much needed help to heightening these stories to the next level. Thank you!

Cheers.

* I dunno how much interest this post will actually help me gather (and I do have a few candidates in mind that I want to specifically reach out to), but if I’m lucky enough to have an onslaught of people interested and willing and not enough spots, I won’t be able to send my work out to everyone. And if I don’t pick you, in a sense, please know that I still feel an intense amount of gratitude for your willingness to offer. But at the end of the day, I’m trying to find the best readers to help improve my books when I can’t. I hope you understand! But I’ll definitely email you back and let you know, regardless. 🙂

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About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

13 responses to “A Writer’s Call for Help

  • Adam

    I’d be up for reading and offering feedback.

  • hsdeurloo

    As writers I think we all suspend our own disbeliefs toward our own talents. If we didn’t think we were any good at it we wouldn’t write. It’s a process that we all go through the ups, downs, learning, unlearning… if we didn’t have the experience of it we wouldn’t grow. I’m glad you are getting outside beta reader help it’s a big step but you’re writing will improve and your skin will thicken. Keep going! We’ll all get there 🙂

    • Nicole Evans

      I really like that philosophy. Sure, I call my own writing shit all the time, but I also harbor that secret belief that I am actually *good* at this. And I think writers should allow themselves to believe they are talented–and admit it–more often. Thank you so much! ❤ You're right, we'll definitely get there. Both of us!

  • M.L.S.Weech

    I hate editing. It’s when you take the freedom and genius you’ve cultivated for months and realize it was wrong. Then you have to do it again and again all the while pointing out things you hate yourself for realizing you should never have done. It’s the antithesis of writing. Ok, so that’s overdramatic, but if I weren’t you wouldn’t likely believe me when I simply say I hate it.

    I have a few thoughts:

    1) How, exactly do you measure success? You mention queries and agents. I too want an agent one day, but I’m not necessarily going to wait for any. I self-published Bob and Caught is due out in December if all goes well. If you have work you’re willing to stand behind, stand behind it. If you TRULY feel that the book needs another edit, your instincts are probably right.

    2) Have you considered researching and hiring an editor. I’ve worked with Otherworld Editorial and Quintessential Editor, and I think they’ve made me better in a lot of ways. They’re both respectful and honest. Yes, cost may be an issue, but I think Caught is the better for them having given me feedback on it. Part of the issue is indeed that you’re too close. This is true in a lot of ways. Betas are fine, but they’re honestly a crap shoot. I’d be more than happy to beta one of your books (though I’d need a lot of patience on the deadline as I’m releasing a book, moving, buying a house, and teaching 13 young adults how to write informative stories), but my feedback would be much like what I do in review. I’d provide other insight, but the best way to get good at editing is to get an editor who you believe in.

    3) What are you doing to be better? That’s not an accusation I promise. It’s the question I ask myself every time I start a new project. I do something different while planning, drafting, and editing. It is my hope that in trying new things, I refine my craft and gain new skills. Some I keep, others don’t work very well. I’d recommend each project you start, you challenge yourself. Growth requires a degree of discomfort. If you’re not a little scared when writing something, it’s PROBABLY because you’re not pushing yourself. (I’m pretty sure I stole that from Joss Whedon).

    4) Do not confuse publishing with writing. You are a writer. Writers write. Your success is not predicated on anything but your ability to produce manuscripts. The business of writing requires edits, revisions, proofs, marketing, tours, conventions and a mountain of energy. You should still take pride in the fact that without a single book sold, you’re still an author.

    I hope some of that helps. Keep going. Don’t give up. If you feel it’s what you’re meant to do, don’t let anything stop you.

    • Nicole Evans

      Ha, I agree with your assessment of editing 110%. But in the same vein, it almost becomes more hated because it is such a NECESSARY part of writing.
      1) I am totally content with writing just to write. Every time I finish a new novel, I’m so elated. And even if someone could tell me with certainty that I would never get published, I would still write like I do now. But to be published and read is the ideal goal! I want my stories to give readers the same emotions and escape that my favorite stories gave me. And I’d like to go the traditional route, though self-publishing isn’t completely off the table.
      2) I totally have and even have the ideal editor in mine (I love her). Yet finances make that truly and utterly impossible. One day, hopefully!
      3) Honestly, I keep writing. I can feel myself improving with each story and I’m actually branching out and am going to be attempting short stories soon. But that’s a good question to ask myself more consciously, so thank you for pointing that out! I know I could do more to help myself improve
      4) I’m going to have to remember that. I’ve always labeled myself as a writer and refused to give myself the label author because I’m not published and read.
      It definitely helps. And trust me, nothing is going to stop me. Not even the biggest threat of all: myself. 🙂 Thank you so much!!!

  • robertfnugent

    Great post, Nicole. Lots of interesting things going on here.

    If I can offer two pieces of advice on the whole editing shtick, since I’ve been around this block myself:

    1) M.L.S.Weech totally nails it on the head with the, “You are a writer” bit. Writing is what you do, and while being good at editing, marketing, or whatever-else-have-you can certainly be a nice convenience, that’s a responsibility that you should not burden upon yourself. It’s too much. And us writers don’t need that. While I have an editor, I tend to do a lot of my editing on my own, partially as an exercise to help better myself. The rough part of that, though? I miss a lot. A whole damn lot. My first novel hit the market with quite a bit of typos and laughable sentences in it that got missed, and largely, that was my own fault. Lesson learned? I really ought to have done less of the editing and let my editor do his thing more. I spent too much time staring at my Microsoft Word and the stress got to me. Words meshed together on my screen and… Yeah. You might be very familiar with how that goes. Seeing mistakes becomes difficult. Fresh eyes are good.

    2) If you get an editor, I think there are two routes to take with this: Either get an editor who can “edit”, or get an editor who LOVES your work and can offer you the most genuine feedback, because they love your story just as much as you do. I went with the latter. And while this was a first project for my editor as well and it led to a few mistakes, I gained a partner who always offers me the most valuable of feedback. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

    Or… You could do both. But yikes, do people our age really have a wallet big enough for that? There’s a whole other issue! Maybe you can hit the jackpot for a two-in-one?

    Disclaimer: Always take my advice with a hint of skepticism. I make lots of mistakes. But mistakes are there to be learned from and I try my best to share what I know!

    I’d be more than willing to beta read for you. Expect an e-mail soon!

    • Nicole Evans

      Rob, I’m so thankful you shared your insight and your own personal experience. Seriously, I appreciated that so much. You’re right, I miss a ton because I’m so close to my own work. No matter how many drafts I go through, I’ll always find something new that makes me step back and go, “Wait, what? How did I miss *that*?!” And honestly, I’ve just been too terrified to ever share my work like I’m calling to do now, because I haven’t wanted my work to be ripped to shreds or get stolen. But I’m at the point now where I care more about my work than my personal feelings. If my books need to get ripped to shreds in order to be the full stories that exist in my head yet didn’t get translated onto paper, then yes, let’s do it! And I actually found an editor that I would KILL to work with, but you’re right on that point, as well: living paycheck to paycheck does not allow wiggle room for professional editors. Maybe one day, perhaps! Except a reply to your email this weekend! ❤

  • lindsayjmarsh

    I really want to read your stuff, but I can’t commit to beta-reading right now. I’d be up for manuscript swapping at the beginning of next year though if you’re interested. All the good vibes to you, girl.

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