WHEN BETA RELATIONSHIPS BECOME SERIOUS
or “How To Use a Catcher’s Mitt”
From ACN: When I go to my writing group and mention to friends of mine that I write with a collaborator, or as I call her, a co-author, I get odd looks. One even suggested that it couldn’t possibly be a collaboration and that really I must be doing all the work. But that really couldn’t be farther from the truth.
As in any good partnership, once synergy happens, one can’t tell where an idea began once it gets going. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts. (And here you thought two and two only ever equaled four!) Rachel and I started working together several years ago as “beta readers” for each other. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a beta reader is a second pair of eyes who looks at your manuscript and helps to pinpoint areas of weakness. It is not, generally, a line editor. (In fact, many beta readers that I’ve known refuse to line edit.)
When Rachel first sent me a manuscript to look through, what struck me right off was the strength of the story. It did need help with some of the technical details, but the underpinnings were rock-solid. Contrary to what many writers have said in my hearing, it is my belief that STORY is everything. If you don’t have a good story, you just have well-constructed grammar exercises. After all, it’s not very interesting to read “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”
From RW: I would say that several of the main benefits are input and a second opinion when world building. It also helps to have another pair of eyes when editing and another brain when creating, as well as a built in support system for the tough times. It’s fun to trade ideas and use each other as a sounding board.
Back to ACN: As we worked together, we started talking about how we might write a story together. I suggested a blog, and created Taurus and Taurus. That is how our serial novel NEW WORLD ORDER came to be. At first, Rachel took one character and I another, and we essentially role-played our way through the story. We have the first, second, and third books all plotted out as well as ideas for a couple spin offs.
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