Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Inappropriate Inspiration?

There was a recent tragedy in my state, perpetrated by a reportedly “sane” man. The court is waiting for evaluation results for good measure.

Regardless of what the state determines, the suspect has an interesting story on the why of his crime. As soon as I heard his explanation, my writer brain took off with a potential story line along a paranormal/conspiracy theory/mystery twisted line. At first I felt bad, getting a story idea off of a tragedy even though I often borrow pieces of real life to incorporate into some of my stories. Then I decide, what the heck, and asked some friends what they thought.

I got an interesting mix of responses back. Some people thought it was totally inappropriate to write up a story that was inspired by such an evil act. Others told me they thought Stephen King may have already done a story along the same line, only a few thought I should go ahead and tackle the storyline, thinking I might be able to have an interesting take on it.

When I read that Stephen King may have already done something similar, it started me wondering. Where does King get his inspiration? Are they from inappropriate places, such as real life evil doing or do they just come to him like many of my other characters do? Then I really began to wonder, how many other writers may get their ideas from “inappropriate” sources of inspiration – whether it be personal tragedy, global tragedy, or local tragedies perpetrated by humans – and whether or not they feel guilty or bad for basing a story off of a real life event.

I'm still debating whether or not to write up the story line. I have notes jotted down and luckily I have more than enough WIPs in the queue that I need ot work on that I can let it sit for awhile before making a decision.

So here's my big question: is it “normal” to feel uneasy about a story idea that jumps out at you from today's headlines? How would you, as a reader, feel if you throughly enjoyed a story that you discover is based off of a real-life tragedy?

Friday, March 11, 2016

To have beta reader or not to have…             

To have beta reader or not to have a beta was a question I had asked myself many times before publishing my book. Advice on this issue was wide spread and every answer imaginable was given. But the general consensus was to have at least one.

I decided to follow in the footsteps of an author, I personally knew who didn’t use them, and published my book without at least a beta reader.  After all, if she is good author, and I want to be successful, why not do it her way.

A friend read my book, and asked me to let her help me. Two things happened, one; I was like yes! Please! Because I felt like I was drowning in a sea of voice whispering my name in every direction. Especially with what to do next when you have a published book. And two, what did I do wrong?

Her answer was beta readers. And ummm… here is why, it is a good idea to have a beta reader. I am going to share with you what Sally one of my new beta readers said. “My main grouse is the writer’s assumption that we are privy to her thoughts without her having to tell us.  I have to say she is not the only one who is inclined to do this. “

I had to stop and think about this statement, there are few people in this world who, can write a story perfectly from start to finish, no grammar mistakes, no developmental errors, or have some kind of inconsistency. I am not one of those people. 

If you’re wondering if an editor would have found the same the mistake, yes and no, (just so you know the book was professional edited.). Editors do their best to catch as many mistakes as they can, but let’s be real. You try to catch the missing commas and other punctuations, sentence structure, developmental holes, POV, all at the same time. They’re going to miss things. Also keep in mind an editor reads hundreds of books in different genres and may not be a vivid reader in the genre you're writing, and may not have a basic understanding that while Vampire and Werewolves both have fangs. Only one needs blood to live. LOL.

 How do you know when you found a good beta reader, I will be honest with you my friend; Narella hooked me up good, and I mean real good. What I noticed about my ladies, Mikayla, Narella, Sally and Julie, they gave me a lot of feedback. I don’t mean feedback like, the book is really good, I like the plot, the character are interesting, or the kind of answers people give when they’re afraid of hurting your feelings.

 My beta readers weren’t afraid to point out my mistakes, tell me where I was confusing, lacking, and asked me question. And my favorite one, by my dear friend, Mikayla, and I quote “For the love of God, tell me what he looks like already.” LOL. Here is a perfect example of an author and editor (Who has probably edited hundreds of romance novels and almost every hero is tall, dark and handsome. Getting my point, it also goes along with what Sally said, thinking the reader is privy to the author’s thoughts) not catching the fact that there was no description of the hero, until chapter 3. No brainer on that one, right. This is how I knew I found the right group to beta readers for me they didn't tell me what I wanted to hear. 

 If you have a beta reader who isn’t giving you constructive criticism, you might want to think about looking for a new one. 

And finally don’t get offended by what they say. Their job is to critique your work from a reader’s perspective, and help make you a better writer.

Some rules are made to be broken, but now I am a firm believer having beta readers is one of those rules that shouldn’t be broken.

Happy Writing, Electra.