Beta Readers

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by Katherine Reay

This is a big week.

Kids are getting out of school or traveling home if they are able, families are gathering, and Thanksgiving, and all the joy that comes with it, is hours away. Happy Thanksgiving, all!
Lizzy and Jane_2
But we’re not here to share Turkey Bowl stories, or in my case the inevitable Turkey Trot run my family deems obligatory, we’re here to discuss writing – creating great stories conveying great Truth. Such writing takes prayer, diligence, perseverance, hours upon hours, sacrifice, a ton of good ideas, some not–so good ideas… and courage. It takes lots and lots of courage.

Today I’m going to suggest you push what you’ve already got – courage, in case you’re wondering – a little farther. Take your manuscript and pass it to a Beta Reader. A Beta Reader can be a friend, but isn’t necessarily one. It’s a person who is going to be honest, push your story, push you and, if you’re blessed, fuel your fire and stimulate you to new twists and turns – even show you some holes to fill within your plot.

This is a tough one for me. I hang on to stories until the 11th hour – basically my deadline. This is probably why I LOVE the edit process – it’s my first crack at a Beta Reader and the new ideas that come to the table from that reading. But if I’d asked someone to read the story earlier, I’m sure I could have pushed it deeper before my editors got ahold of it. Perhaps there were insights, avenues and emotions I missed. As I said, though, it takes courage.

So I say this to all of us: Let’s remember, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NIV) And let’s step out in courage, offer our stories for critique, assistance, even criticism – knowing that each will sharpen them and make them more powerful.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving!

Katherine Reay BWKatherine Reay has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries and, at the encouragement of her family, recently began an affair with food – cooking that is. She always enjoyed eating.

After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family live in Chicago, IL, where she runs, writes, cooks and tries to clean the house. You can also find Katherine at and lurking somewhere within the pages of her novels, Dear Mr. Knightley and now Lizzy & Jane.

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