Monday, December 22, 2008

The Importance of Betas

I started my editing yesterday, finally. I felt like forces were working against me since last Thursday but yesterday I was able to get started. I haven't begun the new writing - that's on deck for today - but I did fix one thing that I thought I'd share with you.

This is a passage from The Other Side:

"If I'm still in town when my stomach growls, I promise you'll see me in here." He pushed back his chair and stood. "It's been a pleasure."

She offered her cheek for his kiss. "Adios."

He walked towards the door and looked back as he pulled it open. She was still standing at the table, watching him, a wistful expression on her face.



My beta made the following comment (the caps are so the notes stand out; she's not yelling at me):

DID HE KISS HER? WHAT WAS IT LIKE? DID IT GIVE HIM ANY KIND OF LASTING IMPRESSION? EVEN ON THE CHEEK, IT COULD BE A NICE LITTLE INTERLUDE INTO WHAT MIGHT BE IN STORE FOR HIM.


This is what I added yesterday:

She offered her cheek for his kiss. "Adios."

Mateo leaned forward and brushed his lips across her cheek. Her skin was warm, and a flush crept up his face. Tradition allowed for a light touching of cheeks instead of an actual kiss, but he wanted to take advantage of her closeness. He cleared his throat and smiled. "Adios."

He walked towards the door and looked back as he pulled it open. She was still standing at the table, watching him, a wistful expression on her face.



I'm so much happier with the new version. Cheek kissing is such a common thing here that it didn't occur to me to go into more detail. This is where I believe it's helpful to have others read your work; everyone looks at things differently and that fresh perspective can really expand your work.


*****

On another, more gruesome note, there's been more violence in Mexico. A dozen decapitated bodies were strewn across a busy street yesterday in the capital of the state we live in (3-4 hours away). Most of the deceased were in the military. I've already forwarded the article to our lawyer in the hopes that it can help speed up our case.

17 comments:

Janna Qualman said...

EXCELLENT addition/change there. :)

spyscribbler said...

Oh, WONDERFUL! The change is GREAT!

*shudder* at the article. That is SO sad. I just think of all their families!

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Janna!

Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Spy, I feel like I should send you updates as they happen, lol.

Scary about the attack.

Turkey Lurkey said...

Yes, adding the kiss really made a difference!

Sorry about all the turmoil down there. However, I hope it helps your case!

Robin said...

Melanie, that was such a cool example. What an awesome beta reader! That really helped to show what sort of changes a beta reader can suggest to enhance a book. Love this post!

Melanie Avila said...

Turkey, it worried me that I only heard about it on CNN and through my mom. I haven't heard anything here yet.

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, I'm glad you think so. It occurred to me that not everyone may have had someone beta their novel before and this might give a good idea of what happens. They aren't expected to rewrite, just point you in the right direction.

WendyCinNYC said...

I agree that is was a good change to that scene. Nice.

It certainly seems that Mexico is getting more and more violent. Either that, or we are just hearing about it with a greater frequency here in the States than before. Be safe.

WendyCinNYC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melanie Avila said...

Thanks Wendy.

I think it's a combination of hearing about the incidents and there being an actual increase. I don't know if the US has been paying more attention since the murders are mostly happening near the border, but it's possible.

ac said...

One of the hardest things, for me at least, is to determine when to flesh out a "kiss" (kiss in quotes to denote that it can be any situation) and when a kiss should be left as just a kiss. Know what I mean?

I guess with experience the answer is imnate.

colbymarshall said...

I love the new passage. I agree--beats rule!

Zoe Winters said...

Wow, hope you get out of Mexico soon!

And great rewrite!

Melanie Avila said...

AC, I originally didn't look at this kiss as anything special (ha - anything to write home about) because it's such a common thing. But for the sake of the book I expanded it here.

It's the only kiss in the book.

Melanie Avila said...

Colby, they do rule!

(that made me think of O'Doyles Rule!)

Melanie Avila said...

Zoe, me too. I had a dream last night we moved to Seattle. We aren't planning to go there, but I'd say that means it's in my mind anyway.