Hello my writing friends. Today I wanted to talk to you about something special. Everyone has a reader (in case you don’t understand, what that means is that everyone has someone they share their work with first). Sometimes the reader you choose is not always the reader you need. It all depends on what you look for in a reader. My reader is my fiance, she is not a fan of the genre that I write in predominantly but she’ll read my stories and can point out parts that she liked and parts that don’t make sense or aren’t worded clearly. This is what I like in a reader someone who can read the story outside the context of my mind. So there are a few types of readers you can find.
The first one is a genre fan, if you are writing a romance story, once you finish the story and present it to your romantic reader you are most likely wanting feedback about how it stands up to other romance stories. If you are looking for a comparison between your work and that of a competitor in the same field this is most likely the type of reader you would want. They can come in handy if you aren’t sure if you’ve built the right story. Although sometimes these readers have a drawback, sometimes they are so engulfed in the genre that they can’t appreciate anything new or discern it from the white noise of others out there. So be sure to choose a fan of the genre not a fanatic of the genre.
The next type of reader is the one I choose to go with, the fish out of water reader. This reader will read your story but they aren’t overly familiar with the conventions of your genre but they can read the story from a non-biased, fresh perspective. As I said I can find out what parts might appeal to a larger audience outside of the genre I’m writing for by knowing what things a non-genre fan appreciates. I can also clear up confusion because the reader may not be familiar with the genre (in the event that a non-genre oriented reader gets confused, other people will get confused as well so clean up your messes). The advantage is that you aren’t bogged down in genre related chaos by a genre crazed fan, but you won’t know how well the story stacks up against the competition.
Finally, if you just want to make sure that your story makes sense. Before you put pen to paper (or finger to key as the case may be) and put your idea on paper, if you doubt the clarity of the idea, then use a child. Find a child between 6 and 9 years old (make sure that it’s okay for you to speak with the child. You know what use a cousin or other relative you don’t want to explain to the cops why you were looking all creepy at the playground trying to find a kid to tell a story to), and tell that child your story. You may have to make it kid friendly, but kids will always point out something they don’t understand. So chances are if the concept you have is not clear to a child, then it’s going to be harder to explain it to an adult. Don’t read the child your story, just make sure that the child hears the plot (the big parts) and understands what’s going on. If they ask a question then you need to make sure that the answer is found in the story.
These are just three types of readers one might encounter, there are others and there are combinations of the ones I’ve mentioned. So be sure that when you choose a reader, you know what you are looking for in their feedback. If you want a genre specific review, then find a genre specific reader. If you want to test the strength of the plot and it’s reception with a larger audience, then go outside the genre with a fish out of water. Finally, if you just think that your plot is not strong enough or clear enough, take the child approach, they will always tell you if they don’t understand. So remember why you are out there picking out readers, make sure that you at least finish the first draft before letting someone read it. This is so that you aren’t editing in the middle of the writing process, because you want feedback from a reader and they’ll give it but you shouldn’t start modifing the work until you have finished the first draft. So happy writing and good luck finding that reader.