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Irrationally Exuberant - Gamma Readers [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Danny Adams

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Gamma Readers [Feb. 19th, 2012|11:18 pm]
Danny Adams
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[Current Location |Not Brave New World]
[Current Mood |irritatedirritated]
[Current Music |"Take Me Out To The Ball Game"]

If you're reading my journal you likely know what a beta reader is. If you don't, it's simply (or in practice, not so simply) someone you trust who critiques a piece of writing that you're working on or just finished, or whatever. Beta reading can encompass the range from basic proofreading to deep tissue edits.

Lately, though, I've been considering the idea of gamma readers. As far as I know I just made that up, but it's a pretty simple idea: If you have one particular fear about your own writing, you ask that person to look at your work with solely that one potential problem in mind. In my case it would be "Is this / does this feel too long?", which is my one big personal bugaboo. If the gamma reader doesn't have time to go into a detailed explanation, maybe I could ask a delta reader to just answer the question with a yes or no.

Of course right now I'd want to do this with the first (gigantic) chapter of Arizona, and asking someone to read 60,000 words just to answer a single yes or no question might be a bit much. And if the answer is "yes" without an explanation I suspect this would only feed the paranoia rather than being at all useful.

One of these days I may send out a call asking for a gamma reader. Be wary.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: coffeehouse
2012-02-20 04:21 am (UTC)
I'm here if you need a gamma. I'll tell you it's too long or needs more and I'll tell you if there is a continuity error. Don't ask me to cut swaths out, but I will tell you where the boring parts are...
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[User Picture]From: madwriter
2012-02-20 04:25 am (UTC)
Telling me where the boring parts are would likely help immensely. I'm one of these writers who's interested in everything and while I logically know that not everyone else is, I seem to keep writing as if they are.
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[User Picture]From: ms_violet
2012-02-20 04:56 am (UTC)
The experience that I come from is that the writer always has a list of questions, even if it's "does it drag in places" or "did it feel long."
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[User Picture]From: madwriter
2012-02-20 08:28 pm (UTC)
I often do, but the others pale in comparison to "Did it feel long". :)
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[User Picture]From: stormsdotter
2012-02-20 01:11 pm (UTC)
I'm in a weird place. In my writing group, my specialty is attention to details and grammar. I will not be able to point out why an interaction in a scene feel wrong, but I'll make your sentences flow smoothly and point out that your moon rose as a crescent and was high over the town as gibbous that night.

This is why I work in textbook publishing.
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[User Picture]From: madwriter
2012-02-20 08:28 pm (UTC)
Apparently these are among my strengths too--but in my case I pay so much attention to the detail that I often lose whether or not the detail is actually needed.
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[User Picture]From: dacuteturtle
2012-02-21 03:19 pm (UTC)
My wife is a good editor. By editor, I mean content editor. I'm always happy to give informed feedback as well. I've done two books now.

As for as too long goes, do a reality check. Look at comparable authors and see how long their chapters run. Compare. Make decision. The important word here is "decision." Do your choices about pacing, chapter length, and genre expectations harmonize? If not, decide what to change.
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