Writers often say they love their characters, literally, like they were real people. Romance writers especially say they fall in love with their heroes. And why not? After all if the writer doesn’t love him how can they convince readers that the heroine – or other hero – is in love with him? I don’t disagree with this. There are some of my characters I love. But there are some dangers to this for the writer.
Authors on Goodreads are in something of a minefield. But you can use it and keep your sanity. Here are some thoughts about the subject, based on my own experience.
There are two types of profile on Goodreads. The first you set up when you join and it’s the normal user profile. Set up “shelves” (which are really just tags) rate books, write reviews, join groups. All the usual stuff. But there’s also an author profile which allows you to do more. And which can become a useful part of your online presence. It lets you track stats on your books and generally keep a better eye on them. So get on there and check out how to set one up.
JUST DESSERT: why a whole book can’t be a happy ending
Damon Suede on why characters must suffer to earn that happy ending
The trap is completely logical. If your HEA is a foregone conclusion, if everyone just wants the sweet stuff, why not cut to the chase? The purpose of escapism is, after all, escape. Why even bother with all those pesky setbacks, complications, or disappointment? Why should any character ever suffer or question themselves? Who needs waffles when what folks want is butter and syrup?
New writers are often deathly afraid of plagiarism. They pop up on forums asking what’s to stop someone who reads their story from taking it and publishing it as their own. Other people usually tell them to stop worrying about it, it’s very unlikely!
But every week we seem to see another plagiarist exposed – which is probably just the tip of the iceberg. So is it time to change the answer to the question? What should the new answer be?
You may have heard about these mysterious creatures known as beta readers. What are they? How do you find one? What do they do? Here are a few thoughts on the subject from someone who’s used them and been one.
What is a beta reader?
Someone who reads your story at some point after you draft it and before you send it out into the world. Don’t get hung up on definitions, names and at what stage they read it. It’s not like it’s an official job title with accreditations or something. There is no one specific point the beta should read your story. Some beta readers might read very early drafts, others only see it late in the process when it’s nearly ready to submit.
What a beta reader is not.
They are not your editor. That’s a different deal – for one thing an editor is usually getting paid by someone. Some betas may actually be editors, or working on becoming one, and give you something close to a pro edit, but they’re still in a different relationship with you than a paid editor who has no reason to pull their punches. Beta readers tend to give you the truth a bit more diplomatically.