As we talked about last time, there are three things to do when starting your second draft. Take a break and then read it, get someone else to read it, and start the second draft. For this post I want to look at getting others to read it. This section can be broken down into two parts. Alpha readers and beta readers.
These are people reading the work as it is being produced. Generally you will hand them one to two chapters at a time to critique. This has its ups and downs. Which I will speak about my own experience with this method. I attend a bi-weekly writing group (though recently I took some time off to focus on finishing my second draft), where we critique each others work. So one week we’re off, where work is submitted to be critiqued the following week.
In terms of a novel this means submitting between one to four chapters every other week. So over the course of a eighty-thousand word novel his may take roughly sixteen weeks before they’re read the entire thing. Which leads to fractured input from the readers. Its nice to have the deadlines, but the helpful critiques start to dwindle as time goes by. Ultimately this method is good for people that want a good idea if their story is fleshing out well.
I thank my critique group for going through my first novel, but I wouldn’t do something like that again.
My favorite group of readers. Beta readers get the entire novel in one go. It may still be rather rough with grammar errors, plot holes, and continuity errors. But their job is to give you the overall feeling of the book. Are there scenes missing? What needs punching up or explained better? Do scenes or characters need to be cut?
They are going to help you see things you may have missed. Which will be a lot. My advice here is to pick people whose opinion you trust, that will tell you the truth, and that are from varied backgrounds. Adults, children, teenagers, lawyers, and candlestick makers. Obviously the material may change who you pick, but the wider the audience the better feel you’re going to get for your book.
Next post I want to talk about the act of writing the Second Draft. These will be tips on where and how to start it. I suffered for a month trying to figure out a great way to tackle eighty-four thousand words. And if I had problems, I know others have as well. Until then, get writing!