By Annette Dashofy
On Monday, Gina wrote about critique groups. I love my critique buddies. But reading one chapter at a time has its limitations. Therefore, I have a second line of defense, known as my first readers.
Currently, I’ve completed my second draft, and am now sending that complete manuscript to this select group of “experts” to read and vet the story as a whole.
How do you go about choosing your own first readers? There are probably as many answers to that question as there are writers. But here is a list of who I’ve chosen and why.
A friend who writes in another genre and who also happens to work in the field of psychology. There is a psychological aspect to my story and I want to know that my characters are reacting and responding in an appropriate manner for the circumstances.
A non-writer friend who works in the computer field. Part of my story revolves around an old computer and some data contained within it. I need to know if my technological details are correct. I’ve done the research in advance, but does it work in the context of the story?
A non-writer friend who is an avid reader of all genres. She can tell me if the story works for her as a reader. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Have I answered all the questions and wrapped up all the loose ends to suit her?
Then I have three mystery writer friends who will vet the story from their trained perspective. Did I play fair? Are the necessary clues hidden well enough? Too well? Plus, they will also comment on the same stuff that my non-writer/avid reader does.
I should mention that our own Joyce Tremel is in that last group and I expect her to vet my police secretary character and thread, too. What did I get wrong? What wouldn’t happen that way, even in a fictional department where I have some leeway to make up the rules and procedures? And, yes, what did I get right?
So my last bit of advice for the month is this: find a good critique group, finish the book, and THEN compile a group of experts to be your first readers.