If you are in the process of revising a book that you plan to query, or submit, or give away, or have anyone else read at any point in their life, you need BETAS.
Nope, not the fish, although they’re very pretty. And they’re feisty. It’s pretty awesome to have a fish that you know (and it knows) could probably kill you if it could just figure out how to get outta that bowl.
The Betas I’m talking about are Beta readers. People you trust (often other writers) who can read a book with a critical eye and tell you what needs to change. What could be better. What’s awesome and what’s crappy. Again, this has to be a person who is a great reader and preferably a great writer, because they have to know what they’re talking about.
A good Beta reader is worth their weight in gold, my friends.
Anyway, one of mine made a very interesting suggestion after reading SYNTHESIS. She suggested I use the beginning of Chapter 2 as the beginning of the entire book.
And I tried it.
And it totally, completely worked. Let’s compare, shall we?
Intuition is a funny thing. You can’t explain it, yet there it is – tickling at the back of your brain like the world’s softest feather. It nudges you, whispers to you, and if you ignore it? Well, who knows, it could be nothing.
Or it could result in a freaking huge catastrophe.
Okay, so this is a decent beginning. We know we’re inside the main character’s head, but we don’t know who he or she is, where they are, or what’s going on. We get all that information soon, but there’s not much here to hook us.
I don’t know how long it’s been since Doug got shot. It feels like fifteen minutes and ten years at the same time. I’ve been staring at my reflection in the airplane window for at least an hour, I guess, and it’s starting to get kind of weird because it’s like another me is staring back. Not just my reflection, but another me altogether, a wiser me who’s saying I should have listened to my instincts when I had the chance.
This feels so much stronger than the old beginning. First of all, who is Doug and why was he shot? Is he dead? Who shot him? Right off the bat, we know the main character is on a plane and something is terribly wrong. We don’t know who he or she is yet, but we want to read more.
Do you struggle with beginnings? If not, where do you struggle? And what have you learned from your Betas (either the fish or the people)?