Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I have said this before on this blog, but I’m going to say it again: If you want to be a better writer, beta read someone else’s writing. Lots of it. Now.
I have the privilege of beta reading another book by a good friend right now. It’s illuminating. I see him do things that I wish I could do – and I see him do things I know I do that I know the both of us have got to stop doing now.
Cliches, for one. They really do stand out like sore thumbs. And complicated verb appendegary. The powerful present-tense verb is clearly the better way to write.
And the passive voice is ugly, folks. It’s ugly.
They’re easy to catch when you’re reading material you haven’t written, these mistakes. And others. So I hope after I finish beta reading this book I can go back to Doleful Creatures – my own creation – with clear eyes with which to see its beauty and its flaws.
What Stephen King says is true: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” And I think that applies to beta reading for others as well as reading published works. Read books. Read a lot of books in a lot of different styles by a lot of different authors.
Run out of space to put your books. I’m getting more like Terry Pratchett, who said : “If you have enough book space, I don’t want to talk to you.”
Find authors you admire and read everything they’ve written – especially the early stuff. Concentrate on the early stuff. You’ll see them making the same mistakes, the same progression as you. I’ve seen that in the likes of C.S. Lewis, P.G. Wodehouse, and Clark Ashton Smith. Read. Just read. Then read some more.