Today's post is a short and sweet one by R. Mac Wheeler. Take it away, Mac!
The Value of the Beta Reader
I recently swapped beta reads with the eloquent India Drummond, who I adore. Her characters are rich and colorful, their heartache, their love, and anger palpable.
Every pair of eyes brings valuable feedback. Even the nits that at first glance seem technically or stylistically counter to how you write may sprout beneficial changes in your writing.
I love white space, and dis-like narrative that seems crammed together. So I use commas where other writers wouldn't.
"You often use commas to indicate a pause, but grammatically they aren't correct."
Of course I balked. My kneejerk reaction:
"'CMOS Rule 6.18: The comma, aside from its technical uses in mathematical, bibliographical, and other contexts, indicates the smallest break in a sentence structure. It denotes a slight pause. Effective use of the comma involves good judgment, with ease of reading the end in view.'
"The first rule in the CMOS on commas, of 44.
"The art of writing is about sharing the context, emotion and subtly of communication. The comma is the greatest inflection in the author’s tool box to replace the invisible body language."
After self-reflection and analysis of my writing (and three edit passes), I found myself removing a third of my commas which served to indicate a pause in narration or dialogue.
Tiny changes throughout a manuscript. But India's critique aided me to tighten and improve my prose.
Who is R. Mac Wheeler? A writer of speculative fiction, fantasy, SF, suspense, and paranormal with rich characters carrying tons of baggage, including eight series from YA with ogres and trolls, grittier vampire and werewolf noir, even a family saga. Two stand-alone novels are screaming for their own series.
If you love nature and life visit my blog where I post my photography.
Thanks for stepping up first, Mac!
So, ladies and gents, do you know Mac? What's the biggest lesson you've ever learned from critique?