Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Questions to Test Readers

Not all of them read my blog, but it's good to have a place to store such things.

I love hearing people enjoy my stories. I enjoy them, too. It is gratifying to know I didn't waste however much of my life.

But...

When it comes to cutting words or increasing clarity, what I need to know as a writer is where I went wrong.

Here are some typical questions I ask my test readers.

Did anything ring false? Was there a moment when you thought, "Oh, I don't believe that" or "that was too easy" or "yawn."

Were you ever confused longer than a paragraph or two? Was some new concept or creature so inadequately explained you finished the book wondering what the heck was going on with that?
Did you think something was going to be important that turned out to be nothing or vice versa? Did it annoy you?

Was something obviously wrong? Like his eyes were one color in one chapter and a completely different color in another? Did you wonder where the ladle she was holding went? Did she take too many drinks in one conversation? These are continuity errors and very easy to miss when you're writing but very easy to see when you're reading. I need to know about those.

And here's the clincher. I have a plot hole so big Gahanna the spider-guy could walk through it upright. Do you know what it is?

You can't offend me at this point, so don't hold back. What didn't you like about the story?

My never-ending thanks to those who've agreed to read and comment on my stories. It's a bit scary, but I promise, your efforts will contribute to a better experience for all future readers. Plus, you'll get mentioned on my website!

PS. I'm not asking anyone to answer these questions here. My test readers have other ways to contact me, and I prefer not to ruin a story for future readers.

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