Why draft readers matter

Some writers work with others. They plot, work on character development, consider the setting and together create their story. I’m not that kind of writer. For me, it’s a one person kind of passion. Maybe I’m too egotistical or I’m too overprotective of my ideas, but the truth is, as I usually have most of the story written at once—plot wise—I don’t have the need or urge to discuss it with others before I write it.

However, just because I write on my own, it doesn’t mean that the final book I publish is only due to me.

When I wrote my first official novel, The Last Summer, and figured out I didn’t have anything to lose by publishing it, I printed out a copy and gave it to my mother and then to my sister to read. I would have given it to my father first—he liked suspense and mystery novels—but he’d passed before I’d finished it. I also sent the draft to a friend.

The result was valuable feedback I took into consideration when I edited the novel.

With the first four books of The Five, I’d written them around 2012 and wasn’t sure about publishing them, so I let my eldest niece decide.

An avid reader, she was tasked with becoming my draft reader and with giving me honest feedback. She did, and her comments were constructive and supportive.

Besides being helpful with plot issues, certain mistakes or pacing problems, having draft readers helps me in a deeper, more emotional way. I know that people, especially those who love you, tell white lies, and maybe that was what my friends and family did. But at the same time, I know that they understand how important writing is to me, and if they’d thought my books were a mess, they would have mentioned it—probably sugarcoating it.

Draft readers can help you decide when in doubt about a character’s fate or a chapter’s ending; they may also help you see if you should change aspects of the story that may seemed rushed or developments that may appear forced.

Of course, editors usually take care of such issues they—we—have a keen eye to spot them, but when you can’t afford one, I think it’s still important to find someone willing to lend a hand. Especially if it’s someone who reads books of the genre you’re writing and is aware of the tropes that will set your books apart from other novels.

Do you have draft readers? How many? Do you find their input useful?

Moira Daly

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