Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I Write: Being and Writing . . . Thank God for Beta Readers

I have just gotten back from my beta readers the manuscripts of I Write: Being and Writing, an experiment with a new printer (CreateSpace) and with non-fiction (a collection of blog articles on writing).

It is so important in the final writing stages to obtain feedback from other readers. Everything we know when we write is lively in our consciousness. Writing is a holistic interaction of experience and imagination, yet actually writing sentences is a linear task. We literally write a manuscript line by line, sentence by sentence. Sometimes meaning can get lost in the "translation." Beta readers let writers know where the breakdown occurs in that transliteration of three-dimensional (or non-dimensional) vision into the logic of exposition.

Several perspectives from discerning readers provide the writer with a new perspective of the work, one limited to words read from the page. Should every suggestion or comment result in a change in the manuscript? Not necessarily. However, every comment is an opportunity to view what has been written through another's eyes, to ask questions, to think as a reader rather than a writer.

One thing that I've learned from the comments is that to write "I’ve attempted to maintain the focused-yet-informal style that blogs engender," which is part of the book's foreword, does not mean that the book's informal style means sloppy, lazy organization or exposition. It only means that the book's style appears to be informal or casual. The writer's work, my work, is to clearly state what I mean while appearing to be writing informally.

Going through the book page by page, looking at the handwritten comments on the hardcopies and then deciding what needed changing and how best to do it was a powerful, positive experience. After all, most of what I'd written didn't have to be changed. The suggestions presented, though, provided insight into where I could clarify my writing in order to make my message easier to understand. 

Blog-to-book is more than copy and paste. My revisions, based on the comments of my beta readers, are more than fixing typos and such. I'm glad.  I Write: Being and Writing, will be a better book for the revision, thanks to the insightful comments of my beta readers.

Copyright 2012 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved

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