Lessons from beta reading …

I’ve been busy, not just on writing stuff but a lot of my busyness has been there. For myself, I’ve written two short stories for the Resilience Anthology my writing group is producing (one of them is here), have finally outlined my new WIP (it will change but I now have a target) and drafted the first few chapters. All good.

I’ve also been doing some beta reading for several books, which has kind of turned into editing (can’t help myself). So far, people have appreciated my comments and I try very hard to offer up potential solutions for each issue I raise, as well as being generous in praise for the excellent writing and really interesting story lines I see.

One thing, however, crops up a lot. I’ve seen agents and editors rant about this over the last few years so it’s deeply embedded in my soul as a no no. It’s this:

Your reader does not need to know – in the first chapter – the full history of your fantasy kingdom and/or your MC’s habits and characteristics and/or their relationship with their parents/siblings/school friends and/or which parent is dead and how they died and/or what’s going on in the rest of the world (relevant or not)… etc …

It’s ok to let the reader learn about these things as they read the book and as they get to care about these things because they don’t care on page 1…

And it’s not only ok, it’s actually GOOD to raise questions in the reader’s mind in the opening chapter –
It’s ok to refer to characters without explaining who they are (or their hair/eye colour)
It’s ok to refer to events without explaining what they are or when they happened

The best thing you can do is arouse the reader’s curiosity so they are dead keen to know the answers and look forward to finding out.

That’s all! Happy writing…

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