This Is Why We Need Beta Readers, People

Just a quick one.

Among other excellent feedback from my friend Steve on ASCENSION POINT was this gem: “If you use the word ‘smiled’ one more time I will cry.”

“Oh, really?” thinks the author. “I’m sure he’s exaggerat- oh.”

135 times, in 88,000 words.

That’s 0.15%, and would only be acceptable if there were fewer than 700 words in the English language. And maybe not even then.

11 thoughts on “This Is Why We Need Beta Readers, People

  1. You dig yourself so deep into your story, that sometimes when you look at it with fresh eyes, you go, “Are you kidding me with this?!” It happens to me a lot of the times. lol

    1. So true. I think I might have a general problem about describing in too much detail where the characters are facing, if something’s in their left hand, whether they’re frowning/smiling, etc. Need to cut it out!
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Me too. I use way too much detail and forget that readers are intelligent. Ive read somewhere that you need to leave enough unsaid for the reader’s imagination to kick in. Hemingway said “The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.” Kinda makes sense if you think about it. Although, I think it requires skill to know what to leave out.

  3. Steve

    I’m famous!

    Wolf is right about Hemingway. If you havent already, read “Hills Like White Elephants”, a short story so won’t take long. Beautifully and simply written, but I’ll be damned if I know what it’s about.


      1. Steve

        Well you’re almost there. It’s set at a train station waiting for a train, and they hammer about 50 shots of absinthe in 15 pages…

  4. jackiehames

    I’ve had similar realizations looking over drafts before. I think to myself: “Oh my freaking god, was I high? What is this crap?” And then I scribble all over the page in red pen. I feel better after that.

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