geta-beta.com – my new (for-writers) web project!

After a great many design revisions, programming crash courses, and yet another critique group that didn’t quite meet my expectations, I’m pleased to announce that development on Geta-Beta.com is officially underway!

Geta-Beta— a bad pun based on the term ‘beta-reader’.

After trying a good number of writer’s critique circles and websites, I have to say that I’ve had my share of disappointments. Hobby writers clashing with determined professionals, fantasy die-hards trying to read cozy mysteries, groups of older women with loudly stated political views that… well, don’t quite match up to your taste.

The online critique circles have their failings, too. You have a bigger community pool… but how do you really know who is giving you feedback? And if you miss a week’s queue, you miss a chapter. Great for short stories, but terrible for novelists.

The main theory behind Geta-Beta.com is that the authors ought to be the ones directing who gets to see their stories. A user on the site will be able to browse projects, all of which are publicly displayed in query letter format– description, credentials, notes, and the first three pages. Find something that you enjoy, request to be a beta reader. The author will receive notice and decide whether to give you access.

Write some thoughtful critiques, earn credits for posting your own stories and chapters. If you want to focus on plot and not style in the first draft, great. Go browse the user directory and find some plot junkies who like your genre. Need a grammar sweep? Say so in your notes.

It won’t be a fair system. Better writers will get more attention. The site won’t be right for everyone. But I need something like this for my work, and I hope others agree.

I’ll post news when I get closer to finishing. I’ll need some test readers and writers to try out Geta-Beta-beta, and while I know html and css, my design’s not quite inspired. Anyone interested?

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find a critique partner

I just found out that a fellow wordpress blogger-writer Kathleen has started up a networking site: Crit Partner Match.

The basic idea (to use Belinda‘s wording, as she alerted me to this) is that it’s a little like a dating site… except that instead of finding dates, you’re looking for compatible writing-critique buddies. You create an account, fill out how long you’ve been writing, your strengths and weaknesses, and what sort of things you’d like in a critique partner.

The site is only two days old, so it’s small right now. I hope it grows much larger– this was a great idea.

Hope to see you there!

weaknesses… (darn critiques)

Last night was time for our monthly local writing group to get together and… well, talk about writing. We talked, I shared a little of my book, reinforced the fact that I have no life by offering the daily word count of my collaborative for-fun-only project, and plugged google documents as a great resource for keeping an up-to-date backup online.

After the meeting had ended, one of the women had taken the time to critique the first thousand words of my first chapter. Any one of these would be a good topic to cover later, so for now I’ll give an overview, then start writing on some of these in detail. This is what she found.

Pronouns. I dislike using names over and over in sentences. I also like long sentences with lots of commas, often with two characters involved, interchanging ‘he’ and ‘him’ without discrimination. Most of my test readers weren’t confused, but she’s right. It’s all technically incorrect.

Research. The sweet older lady has a lot more experience in killing things than I do. Apparently if you’re a cannibal chopping off a leg, you really want to do it at the knee, because the tendons are easier to cut than the muscle and bone. Also, the body’s legs would be straight, not twisted, because it’s easier to strip that way. Obviously, I should kill things more often.

Redundancy. I have got to stop saying things like ‘dead body’ and ‘living man’. Obviously, if the living man is protesting, we’re not going to confuse him with the body. It’s not that kind of fantasy.

Subtlety in all the Wrong Places. I’d put too much space between the discovery of something new and my character’s reaction in attempting to describe the symbol in detail. It made my hero look strange, and his sudden panic became confusing instead of effective.

Blah Words. As Mark Twain forcibly restrained himself from writing the word ‘very’, I have found myself still unable to completely escape the mire of somewhat, almost, actual, and their equally deplorable cousins.

Which isn’t to say that everything was bad. The setting and descriptions interested her (despite that it was just a freezing stone cave with a dead guy), she liked the pacing, thought the story was interesting, and wanted to read more. I also saw approving marks around my dialog, which I’m particularly proud of. My test readers in general say that vocal interaction is a particular strength of mine.

Overall, I’m pleased with the feedback, even after the routine humbling. I’m always more concerned with pacing and plot-holes; most of the work I need to do now are serious, but cosmetic changes.