I gave myself the best present of all this week: I started the actual writing.
Am I done with all the outlining? Nope.
Am I done with all the character details? Nope.
Is the Act I outline in good enough shape to start the process of laying out and writing scenes? Is the overall story idea developed enough? Big yes, to both.
I’ve mentioned before that I write the end of the story first (err, well, sorta…), then go back to the beginning. To me, you can’t go on a journey until you know where you start and where you finish. In between? That’s the time for all the wandering and randomness. And, yes, in real world terms that is how I ended up staying in a brothel in Spain. Don’t ask.
In writing terms that means I get to spend the next month or two working on Acts I and IV. When those are finally pounded into first-draft shape, then I will go back and fill in all the blanks in Acts II and III to make everything come together.
Hey, it works for me.
Honestly, I’m pretty geeked up about this – I’ve done snippets and little bits and pieces, but to finally get to sit down and write…well, that’s the fun part.
Which brings me to the harder part: beta readers.
As writers, we need ’em. But finding the right ones? That’s pretty damned hard. Too often those we ask to read either give no feedback at all, or give feedback that is, err, “less than useful”.
Actors are pretty much the biggest attention-whores in the Universe – shit, their entire being depends on people paying attention to them – but writers ain’t all that far behind. We live inside our own heads, and in general we understand just how badly we can lie to ourselves. We need the feedback and comments from readers. Even misanthropes like me crave that feedback…
I know writers who insist they will only use other writers as beta-readers. That, to me, is a bit of a head-scratcher. On the one hand I can understand the sentiment: who better than a writer to know what feedback is important?
On the other hand, isn’t that just a bit like a manic-depressive getting therapy from a sociopath?*
*An old Steven Wright joke: a masochist and a sadist go on a date. The masochist says, “Hurt me!” The sadist answers, “No.”
I’ll have to think pretty hard about my beta-readers for this one. Yes, I trust myself and what I imagine and write. But trusting myself does not mean I actually get it right. That is what a beta-reader is for: to find the inevitable holes and flaws. It most definitely is not a grammar thing, it’s a story thing, and not a lot of people are wired to think (let alone respond) that way.
Shit, I wonder if I can order one from Amazon…