Sending Your Story To Alpha Readers



The Holidays are nearly upon us.

Here at Avengers HQ, I find myself listening to banter about fruitcake, watching Christmas films that no one really wants to watch, and generally trying to keep the peace.

Image result for civil war christmas meme


I'm also trying to start a new story. I am a bit... unfocused when it comes to choosing what to write and starting new novels. I tend to go through several plot bunnies and false starts before I find what I really want to write. I play with ideas of editing old projects, too. 

Editing old projects requires a few things. 

1. I have to love this project enough to want to edit it. 
2. I have to have feedback on it. 

The latter of these is both difficult and not. 

I have a couple friends who are willing to read anything I write and they give good feedback. This is the easy part.

But I am also always a bit frightened of sending things to them. This is the hard part.

I know my story is flawed. I want to be ready to send it, feel like it's a good story with small bugs instead of plot holes that will eat you. I know I made mistakes and maybe I should fix them before I send them to my alpha-readers. 

But alpha readers are there to help me find the mistakes so that I know how to fix them. 

If you wait until you're ready to send a story to someone, you never will send it.

The other day, I was playing with the idea of editing the novel I wrote for NaNo '15. One of my alphas had read it and the other had not. I had just never sent it to him. The majority of the story, though fun to write, was mortifying. But the main plot or at least the concept has potential to be great and I loved the characters. 

So I asked my alpha if he'd read it. He didn't need to give in depth feedback; I just need to know if I should rewrite, edit, or move on. 

He said yes. I sent it before I lost my nerve. 

And now, I wait. As I always do. But with Christmas coming up and critique reading of my own to do, I am plenty busy and can be patient.

My advice to you for having someone read your stories:
  1.  Ask. Even though my alphas will read anything I send them, I still find it's good manners to ask if I can send it to them. 
  2.  Be specific about what kind of feedback you want. Do you want specific things or general? Big stuff or line edits? 
  3. Grit your teeth and send it.
  4. DO NOT LOOK AT THE STORY AFTER IT'S BEEN SENT. You will drive yourself to insanity because you will notice mistakes.
  5.  Be gracious when the feedback comes back. Don't argue. (I also find that if you have to explain away feedback, it's because you didn't explain the topic well enough in the story.)
  6.  At some point shortly after you receive feedback, ask your reader specific questions if you have them. This is also a good chance to ask questions about the feedback. 
  7.  Let the feedback simmer before you apply it. Ultimately, everything is your choice; you are the author. You may decide that your reader was wrong and you don't want to add flying ninja squirrels to the story. Or you may disagree with feedback and then realize the reader was right. 
  8. Be willing to read their stories if they are writers. Iron sharpens iron. Help each other grow as writers. 
I hope this was helpful to you. These things have been very helpful to me over the years (I ignored the rule of don't look at the story after it's been sent and I about died of humiliation. Please don't ignore that rule.).

And now, back to getting into my new story and watching Thor, Captain America, and Dr. Banner try to make a gingerbread house. Oh look here comes Mr. Stark... oh dear. I had better go help them.

Don't forget our Twitter Chat this Friday! We're discussing Editing and the chat will start at 8:30 PM. 

Mr. Stark, I really think that building Stark Tower with gingerbread is a bit excessive... 

~Vision




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