On beta-reading and sunny days

Being typically English for a minute; what on earth is up with the weather? Is that sunshine?!

Sunny roomI’m saying this because my current location is rather stunning when it comes to catching the sun. I’m currently in the chair on the right with a cup of tea and a glorious view of the Solent. It’s really, really quiet, and very blissful.

That said, I’ve spent the last few hours staring at my laptop screen, and that’s the plan for the rest of the day…so a nice view isn’t as brilliant as it sounds!

I’m currently beta-reading two things, one for work and one for a friend, and they’re both actually harder work than I anticipated. This is mostly my fault; I usually think of beta-reading as easy…after all, it’s just reading through something and commenting occasionally, isn’t it? And then I start doing it, get involved, and my brain hurts.

It’s not just comments on things done badly – I can do that, but that’s not very useful. It’s comments on things that could be improved. Things that could change. What addition would improve the plot? What scene would ratchet up the danger? What could be added in or cut out to change the reader’s sense of foreboding, or give them a shock? Do the characters work? What are the themes, and could they change? What, within this writing and this author’s style, would make their work shine?

Both of the works I’m reading are good; that’s partly what makes it so hard. I’m trying to suggest changes on several levels – from major plot twists and movements, down through character emotions and motivations, to individual scenes. Luckily I’m not yet doing the sentence structure and grammar edits; those are in some ways easier (simpler to go through) but do take up a lot more time. But it’s still very time-consuming and brain-taxing to edit – or at least, to edit in a way that will be helpful to the author!

Magicians-GrossmanI’ve also got a procrastination task of The Magicians by Lev Grossman; it’s been on my TBR for a while and I finally got loaned a copy – well, it got shoved at me by an enthusiastic friend who then proceeded to tell me, rather gleefully, that it’s quite dark and I’d really enjoy it. I’m not sure what that says about my character or his opinion of it, but there you go. So I’m hoping that if I ‘procrastinate’ with that, it’s still productive.

I also want to get some of my own writing done, but that’s if I can avoid the lure of the salt pans and harbour walls outside my window…the sun’s still shining, and the sea breeze is calling to me. I may have to take a break later and go air my head out after too many words!