P.S. Since I wrote this post last weekend, I got myself unstuck. BUT, I also received editorial notes on another manuscript that same day, so I can’t apply my new sense of direction to the WIP just yet. Sorry, alpha readers.
We all know the value of beta readers, who test out our completed manuscripts and provide the feedback we need to revise and whip them into shape. But I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the people who read our work as we write it. Sometimes they’re called critique partners, but I like to call them alpha readers.
What would we do without them? Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going on a first draft is my alpha readers cheering me on, bugging me for the next chapter, demanding to know what happens next. Don’t get me wrong – they can be critical, too. They let me know if a chapter lacks enough emotional impact or if one of the characters has acted out of character. Their initial feedback after each chapter helps me gauge how I’m doing … and where I’m failing.
They put up with a lot, too. I don’t know about you, but my story is constantly evolving in a first draft – and I write “fat.” Alpha readers have to read scenes that will later be cut, sub-plots that will be snipped, and characters that disappear. Names change, too. Aloycius becomes Bert (because I got tired of typing Aloycius), and in the next draft, he might not even exist. (Oh yeah, alpha readers, did I mention I might merge Hester and Bert into one character? That will give me, what? Hert? Bester?)
Anyway, I want to thank the alpha readers on my current project for prodding me on, even when I have my doubts: my husband, my daughters, Marcy Hatch, Krystalyn Drown, and my parents, who loaded half the manuscript onto their Kindle and took it with them to Aruba. I don’t dare quit now, even though I am, admittedly, a little stuck …