The Honest Truth of Editing.

It sucks.

There’s nothing more devastating than having a piece of work that you were terribly proud of taken apart and positively criticized for 5000 words straight. It’s needed of course, because it makes you a good writer as opposed to a passable one.

About 18 months ago, I realized that my fan fiction work was drawing more readers than I had originally anticipated. The number of readers was a clear shock and quite suddenly it dawned on me that my work was read and that people saw something in my work that was worth coming back for, chapter after chapter. With that discovery, came the realization that I would have to keep an eye on the quality of work that I put out there. Reading through it once or twice wasn’t going to cut it, because inevitably mistakes are missed and sentence which you think might make perfect sense, falls one step short of terrible.

So I decided to ’employ’ a volunteer Beta Reader. I had a rocky start, but eventually settled on a guy which I will refer to as Tenchii Knight. TK literally swooped in and saved the day with my writing. He had a good eye for mistakes, he bothered to explain to me why he chanced certain things, he taught me about Americanisms, sentence structure and he helped to tone down what was a terribly elaborate writing style. TK fixed my writing.

And, he did it with honestly.

In him, I realized the value of constructive criticism, and how sharing your work with someone whom you trust to be honest, can improve your writing. And, he showed me that although writing is a lonely profession, you don’t necessarily have to struggle on your own. He became the person whom I could go to with a terrible sentence and say: Fix it.

He made me better and that is ultimately the goal of writing, to strive to better heights, to improve on your own style and to produce something which you can be proud of. It’s not nice sometimes, especially when I receive a piece of work littered with red comments and fixed spelling errors, but it’s needed. It’s like the sting of an antiseptic on a wound which allows it to heal.

So, yes.

Editing sucks, but a Beta Reader can make it better and flow smoother.

My advice to you is thus.

  1. Find a Beta Reader, preferably someone who respects your work (and yourself) enough to critizise you constructively.
  2. Edit. Go through your work if you decide to make it public in the form of fan fiction or web fiction. In an ideal world, even blog posts should be edited by a third party but honestly, that will take half of the fun out of it.
  3. Take pride in your work. It will inspire you to become better.
  4. Listen to what people say. Often, you might not agree with them, but they have valid points if they are not senseless flamers (definition of a flamer: someone who gives abusive criticisms).
  5. If it all gets too much, sit back, take a break and then come back to your work. You’ll see it in a whole new light.

This post is dedicated to my Beta Reader of 18 months, Tenchii Knight. Thank you for helping me my friend, it’s always appreciated.

Also, to Jenn who comments here, who has more recently started helping me with my stories. 🙂 Credit must be given, where credit is due.


Enter the Dragon Part 5

And thanks to a faulty water line, all of my work collegues (including myself) got send home. That meant that I have time for a quick story!

I present to you (because it requires the least thought) a continuation of my dragon story. J This was not thoroughly proof read. I have a bit of a cold and reading hurts more than typing does. J Sorry guys.

Enter the Dragon – Part 5.

“Okay, I’ll heave and you ho…”

“My dear, why don’t you ho and I’ll heave.”

“Because, mate, I’m a woman. We don’t ho unless we’re desperate.”

“I don’t know, you…”

“Think long and hard before you finish that sentence demon.”

“Of course.”

There was silence for a few seconds.

Alyss sniffed and adjusted her position behind the dragon. She and Minias had been struggling for the past hour to get it out of her room, but all it earned them was a knocked over television set, a few singed demon eyebrows and a dragon tail whiplash over Alyss’s back. She had tried coaching it out with some of the pillows from the house, but it seemed to have finally sated its appetite. She had also tried some steak, the neighbour’s cat and the couch’s cover but nothing interested the black reptile anymore. It seemed pretty focused on her, and picked up that this was a game (sort of) but for the most of it, it seemed pretty content to remain in her room. The closest it got to the door was to sit down in the middle of it and Alyss, remembering some of the work that she had done with horses, decided that the best way to get him out was to simply push him over.

It turned out to be much harder than she thought.

The dragon didn’t seem agitated, but it really didn’t want to budge. Alyss also couldn’t help but feel that Minias, who insisted on helping, wasn’t making matters any better. The dragon seemed heart bend on challenging him for authority which led Alyss to believe that it is male. When Minias had looped an old lead rein around the dragon’s neck and try to pull it out, it wasted no time to show the demon that it could breath fire along with magic. Alyss didn’t blame him now for being reluctant to be at the head side of the beast, but she also felt very strongly that the demon should stand his man and suck it up. She wasn’t going to risk her hair.

“Don’t pull too hard on his head,” Alyssa said as she pushed her glasses back up her nose and bend down so that she could get her hands underneath the dragon’s hindquarters. She was weary of its tail after it had flicked it at her in irritation, but realized that there was very little that she could do to keep out of its path. Like a horse’s hooves, it was just something that she had to deal with. “Give him space to move into. And don’t, Minias, don’t lose your temper. Okay?”

The demon seemed very irritated. “It’s not a he,” he said. “We don’t know what it is. And secondly, if you had it breath fire in your face, you’ll be a bit short tempered as well.”

Alyssa rolled her eyes but didn’t comment, realizing that it was the wrong time and wrong place to point out that she probably wouldn’t be because she would never be in that situation. But, she didn’t want to discourage Minias from helping her.

“One last try,” she said. “Then I’ll try something else. Are you ready? Heave!”

Before really waiting for Minias’ affirmation, Alyss pushed against the dragon, listening to it protest as it paused at the door. “Come on stubborn,” Alyss said. “It’s nice outside. You’ll like it. Come on… Just… One… Argh!”

The dragon moved suddenly, without warning, leaping out of the door with a strange, whistle like sound. Alyss slipped forward and would’ve fallen right on her face if Minias hadn’t moved in front of her and grabbed her by the shoulder. The demon looked around puzzled as he watched the dragon bound off round the corner of the house. “Why would he… Oh gods Alyss…”

Alyss found her feet and pulled away from Minias. “What? He’s out…”

Minias grabbed her and pulled her after the reptile.

“So… Is… Your… Dog!”

To Be Continued…