1. Jak of Hearts
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    Jak of Hearts Member

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    Worksheet for editing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Jak of Hearts, Jan 31, 2014.

    Hello,

    I am in the process of finishing my first draft. I am going to be printing it off and giving a physical copy to my wife and a few friends for them to give me feedback and find issues that I may have overlooked. I was hoping to find some kind of a worksheet for them to look at while reading to give them things to think about and look for while reading. Do any of you know anything like that that's already made? I did some searching but wasn't able to really find anything useful. I'd appreciate any help.
     
  2. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    If you mean like a 'Did you find this bit interesting?' kinda worksheet, then I suggest you simply make one yourself - that's what I did for my first novel. I think it's better, as you can write questions according to the novel you've written, and you can focus in-depth on certain things you need opinions on. Just work through the manuscript chronologically. :)
     
  3. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I agree with Thomas Kitchen on this one (I usually do anyway ha ha). You'd most likely be better off writing your own because it would be tailored towards your novel. You can ask about specific concerns of yours and you can ask about generic/ universal elements. If I were you, I would do it in parts. Maybe page one just asks for comments on generic things, while page two asks questions about things more specific to your novel.

    Whatever it is, I don't think you should give it to them until after they read it--that is if they are just test readers. You wouldn't want to taint their impressions early one. Maybe you could give it to them when they've read a good ways into it. I know having guiding questions can be helpful, but if they are to give honest thoughts, then I'd wait until they have formed a relationship with the piece.

    If they are actually going to be working on it, giving hardcore critique, then a guided checklist might be nice. That should probably have a few proofreading things to look out for and questions about consistency and voice and such.

    In short, I don't know of any online, but you can always tailor one to your needs.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd recommend saving the worksheet until afterwards. First, get their opinions and impressions without pre-biasing them. You only have one chance to get first impressions.
     
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  5. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Never give out your first draft. You haven't fixed all the "What in the hell was I thinking when I said that?" errors. You haven't added sparkle and foreshadowing. And you haven't let it age so you can come back to it as a reader, not the author.

    Here's the thing: It's a first draft so it sucks. Give it to a reader and they are not going to want to read it again after you fix it and think you've gotten it right. A beta reader's job is to read what you think is the finished product and give a verdict, not an analysis. Readers are not going analyze the problems. They will, at best, scribble a note in the margin.

    “Readers don’t notice point-of-view errors. They simply sense that the writing is bad.” ~ Sol Stein
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can recommend a blog post by KMWeiland on her blog "Helping writers become authors" called Questions for critique partners. (on page 6 )(not sure if I'm allowed to post the link here) I think it was good, and I'm going to give this list to my critiquepartners the next time.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i strongly suggest you take jay's advice seriously... he's right!
     
  8. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Cogito and @JayG are correct.

    Show people your first revision, not your first draft and their unbiased impression is far more valuable than any suggestions they write on any worksheet.

    Try this: Hand out physical copies to a small group of beta readers at the same time, then DON'T ask for edits/suggestions/advice/comments. See how much they offer on their own, without your prompting. Why? If after a month, most of your beta readers haven't even finished reading it and are reluctant to speak to you, that tells you a lot. If they are finished but have nothing to say, that tells you a lot. If they finished it the first weekend you gave it to them, that tells you a lot. And if they have many, many suggestions, that tells you the story engaged them enough to make them spend time helping you with it. Whatever unsolicited response they give you is far more valuable than boxes checked on a worksheet.

    Finally, you need FEEDBACK not advice. Wait, what? That's right. Unless one of your beta readers is a professional editor or trade-published author, their advice will be at best misleading and at worst, destructive. What you need to know is ... How did the story make them FEEL? What did they LIKE? What did they NOT LIKE? From that, you the creator of the work can decide what direction to take. It's not their job to rewrite your work, it's yours.

    I just had to politely and lovingly shoot down one of my beta readers who tried to offer me a stack of suggested changes and 'scenarios' (their words) of what they thought should happen in the story. You want impressions, emotions, reactions from your beta readers, not content. Content is your job.

    :D
     
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  9. Jak of Hearts
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    Jak of Hearts Member

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    Thank you all. I got some really good advice here and I'll take it to heart. It does make more sense, now that I think about it, to revise it once or twice before I send it out.
     
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  10. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    I'd suggest you get some guidance on what to look for and how to revise. I recommend this book.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Good plan. I know I've had my differences with @JayG in other threads, but his advice is spot on here. Do NOT show anyone your first draft. Fix it yourself. Revise it until you can't see anything wrong with it. Then show it to others. If you can see things wrong with it, and you show it to others, you'll just be wasting everybody's time. If you make it as good as you can and THEN show it, their comments will show you things you probably had never considered, and those comments will be all the more valuable to you. It means a lot of work, and maybe a lot of pain and self-examination, but nobody ever said writing was easy.

    Good luck!
     
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