Five Year Writing Goal: Beta readers

I am very grateful for all the comments on my first draft. I have let this feedback bubble away in my brain. Next week I will sit down and begin to make amendments.

Five Year Writing Goal

do you have goalsI’m taking part in Misha and Beth’s Five Year Project and my five-year goal is to write a novel and get it published. This is my monthly recap on how I’m doing.

First step: write the first draft. Tick!
Second step: edit the first draft. Tick! Now I have a second draft.
Third step: find beta-readers. Tick!
Fourth step: write third draft. About to begin.

1st Step: First draft of The Reluctant Scribe

I started writing on the 27th July and I finished on the 31st October 2013, having written 88,000 words in three months. I did some ‘editing’ as I went along, looking back on the previous day of writing before I started each new day, but resisted going back to the beginning each time.

2nd step: Editing the first draft

I let the novel simmer for a month. Then I bought and am working my way through Alan Watt’s book, The 90-day Rewrite. I entered the first 300 words into a Chapter One Competition, which I didn’t win but making the entry spurred me on. And I submitted the first 10,000 words into Richard and Judy’s Search for a Bestseller Competition. This forced me to write a synopsis.

3rd step: Finding beta readers

I have several writer friends and am on a BA Creative Writing course. You would think it would be easy to find people prepared to read through my novel and make a few comments. But, no, it was harder than I imagined and, despite good intentions, several friends failed to complete the task. I fully understand why. We are all busy, busy, busy.

But, one fellow student did read the whole 88,000 words and made detailed notes. He commented on a character that needed fleshing out and on parts of the plot he wanted to see explored in more detail. He pointed out some inconsistencies and made very constructive suggestions for improvements. Gold dust. Another student read the whole thing and made some general statements about tone and style, also very useful. More gold dust. Another student is interested in China and can speak Chinese. He has read parts of it and has given advice about improving the authenticity of the story from a Chinese perspective. More golden dust.

editing - The Reluctant Scribe, Ruth Livingstone

4th Step: Write 3rd draft of The Reluctant Scribe

I am very grateful for all the comments and I have let this feedback bubble away in my brain. Next week I will sit down and begin to make amendments.
These include:

  1. Minor typos I need to correct.
  2. Problems with hyphens and dashes I need to resolve.
  3. A few inconsistencies in the narrative that I must fix.
  4. Swapping two chapters around will bring an important character into the story at an earlier point.
  5. An additional scene will help to flesh out this same character.
  6. Extra descriptive passage to add, in order to help the reader visualise the setting.

And, I already have a critical-reader lined up for the next stage, an established writer who has kindly agreed to read it through. No pressure! I must make it worth her time and effort.


I’ve described why I abandoned my previous novel and written an analysis of the problems: Learning from Mistakes.


Author: Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.

9 thoughts on “Five Year Writing Goal: Beta readers”

    1. Hi Sarah, writing the synopsis was incredibly difficult. It did help to clarify what the story was really about in the end, which was a bit different from what I thought the story was going to be about when I started!

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  1. It looks like you’ve got things well in hand. I’ve been wondering about the process of finding beta readers myself, I’d imagine it’s not that easy. And of course there are some who volunteer and then find they don’t have the time. Good luck with the next step in your project!

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    1. Hi Nissa, good beta readers are worth their weight in gold! I guess there are two sorts. Those who just comment as readers, telling you whether or not the story works, which bits they like and what bored them. The other sort are harder to find: readers who can think like a writer and give practical advice on how to fix problems. Good luck and I hope you find a beta reader in due course.

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  2. You’re fortunate to have had two people read it and give feedback! I think it’s pretty hard to get people to commit to a full novel read – it is a rather large commitment. 😀

    And it seems you got some great, constructive feedback. I love that stuff!

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