Okay, so maybe editing isn’t that bad, because there are probably only 3 circles of hell 😉
I’m lucky really, because I’ve just sent off my first draft to my alpha reader (or should I call her my alpha and omega reader!), my sister. I say I’m lucky because first of all – she’s hugely enthusiastic about reading my work; she read English at University and holds a Bachelor’s Degree and she’s also a writer – in fact she is a poet. Which is a huge advantage when it comes to having a critical eye on my prose. But most importantly, I trust her. Just like I’ve always trusted her to tell me when I’m wearing too much make-up or not enough, I know she will tell me the truth.
But why do we really need alpha or beta readers? I can read through my manuscript and pick out my own mistakes quite easily. But there are certain plot holes, no matter how big or small, that can sometimes be difficult to change. It’s like knitting a jumper and noticing a mistake in the middle. You can become quite reluctant to unravel all the beautiful stitches you’ve made, just to get back to the ugly one and re-do it. You know that you’re going to have to go back and fix it at some point, but can often lack the enthusiasm to do so. Alpha readers can really motivate you to get back in there and start fixing things. Just talking it out with someone else can reignite your passion and give you the determination to start re-writing. You both have the same interest at heart – making your book better.
Editing might not be as fun or creative as writing your first draft, but it is necessary and vital to producing a good book – the kind of book in which readers can lose themselves. Plot holes that jar can really break the spell of a book and readers cannot be fooled by a half-hearted cover up. Moreover, you don’t want all the hard work you put into writing your novel to be over-shadowed by a loose thread you neglected to remedy. So if you can find an alpha reader you trust, keep them sweet with lots of flattering blog posts (are you reading this sis?!) and when they spot a hole or a dropped stitch, there’s nothing for it but to get ripping!
(No sweaters were harmed in the making of this post).