Software

Using BetaBooks For My Beta Readers

BetaBooks
BetaBooks Feedback
BetaBooks Comment

A few weeks ago I sent out a request for Beta Readers on the Facebook group I belong to and received a few replies from people who were interested in reading my WIP. I was excited and scared at the same time, as it was the first time putting my fantasy story out into the world and I didn't know how it was going to be received. I have done several Beta reads for other authors and the process usually involves sending over a pdf or a link to Google Docs. But over the summer, I had discovered a new product on the internet titled BetaBooks.

BetaBooks is a web-based app that lets you break your WIP up into chapters, create specific feedback questions for those chapters, and then send invites to potential Beta Readers. Once they accept the invitation, the Beta Reader can read as many or as few chapters as they desire. And after each chapter, there's a box with the author's feedback questions and a box for the reader to submit their questions/feedback. As an author, you can receive emails whenever a reader leaves feedback for one of your chapters. And the cool thing about the feedback is that there is a drop-down menu that lets you organize each piece of feedback and let you decide if it's a piece of advice you want to act on or just read it and move on. I have found that feedback mechanism quite useful as I go back and edit my novel.

While I have Scrivener open with my novel, I keep the feedback page in BetaBooks open in a browser so that I can make sure I incorporate that feedback into the next draft of my novel. Once I'm satisfied that I have covered the feedback, I mark it as "Done," refresh my browser, and the next chapter's feedback moves to the top of the list. Once all the feedback has been marked Done, I know that I have covered all the feedback from my Beta Readers. As this is my first time through the Beta Reader process, I have nothing else to compare it against. I do know that when I read someone else's WIP in Google Docs, I make extensive use of the comment feature and then I have to send a separate email with my overall concluding feedback. With BetaBooks, the reader cannot make inline comments as of this writing, but the end of chapter feedback, and having it tailored to my specific questions, makes organizing reader comments a breeze.If your novel is ready for the Beta Reading process, I highly suggest giving BetaBooks a try. Their free version allows you to invite up to 3 Beta Readers and have one book available at a time. If you have multiple books or want more than three readers, you can subscribe to the service for $14.99/month. The cost is well worth it, IMHO. I can't imagine doing the Beta Reading process any other way.

David

Using Tiddlywiki for World Building

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Scrivener is fantastic for outlining, planning and writing your novel or short story. However, I did discover while writing the first draft of my fantasy novella that all the names of places and characters got overwhelming. I needed something to tie it all together better, something interactive even, like a wiki.

After a quick Google search, I came across a few articles talking about personal wikis and the one that appealed most to me was Tiddlywiki. It's super simple and the entire program is written in a single HTML document. After downloading the "software," the best browser to use with it is Firefox as there is a TiddlyFox plugin that works seamlessly with Tiddlywiki.

Once you load the file into your local browser, it's easy to start adding items to your wiki. However, I do recommend watching a few short tutorial videos on YouTube from Francis Meetze that will make starting out even easier. To start, I entered place and character names that I had already created before I began writing into the wiki. Then, while writing my first draft and new places and characters came up, I added those to the wiki and linked them to each other via common characteristics such as place, race, etc.

During my first draft, I left the descriptions in each wiki as short and quick as possible, almost more like a reference than a detailed description. As I edit my first draft, I plan on filling in the details in each wiki so that when all is said and done, I have a thorough and interactive personal wiki of my fantasy world (once the series is complete, I can put the entire thing on this website as a reference). I anticipate it will come in handy even more during the writing and editing of subsequent books in the planned series.

Anyone else out there using Tiddlywiki for their world building?

David

Writing a Novel with Scrivener

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The three novels I wrote years ago were done in Microsoft Word because there wasn't another comparable word processor out there at the time (unlike the multitude of OS and iOS options that exist today. I still can't believe George R.R. Martin writes on a DOS machine). I wasn't much of an outliner then so I didn't really have an outline to follow, but I did take a fair amount of notes while writing, and for those I used Text Edit. It was definitely a pain to switch between the two while writing but notes are necessary during novel writing if you're going to remember the stuff to put in later or think of something new to add down the line. If only I had  Scrivener back then, oh how wonderful a world it would've been.

I discovered Scrivener a couple of years ago when I was thinking of getting back into writing (but I wasn't ready yet). However, I did use it to write a few scripts last year and I'm currently using it to write my Novella "Suicide Taxi." Even though I had been using it for a while, I still had not tapped into it's full potential until I discovered some great YouTube videos that really showed how to utilize all the software's rich features. As for writing a novel, I can't imagine using anything else.

Scrivener has different sections for various parts of the writing process like Research, Characters, Places, etc. You can build your world and characters and outline all in the same project that you will write your novel in. And if you need a little research refresher while writing or have a continuity question, it's all right there in the same window. What I like best so far is to break my outline up into chapter folders and then have at least one scene document inside each folder. That way if you want to switch around the order of things later on, all you have to do is move the folder position up or down. Easy as pie.

The outline mode also comes with preset labels which are easy to customize. Most authors, including myself, tend to change them to be the POV of that particular scene or chapter. They're color coded so you can get a quick overview of the POV count and order at a glance.

One of the best features is Target and Stats. You can set a deadline for your project and estimate how many words you want it to be and what days you'll write and Scrivener will tell you how many words you need to write on any given day. However, I'm probably going to be changing up the way I write fairly soon by using writing sprints to get my daily word count up. I'll be writing about that very soon.

Anyways, if you're a writer and you haven't tried Scrivener yet, I would give it a try and see how much easier it can make your writing process. Be sure and check out all the various YouTube tutorials as well. One of the best I've found that will give you a nice broad overview is "Scrivener Bootcamp by Jason Hough."

David

Aeon Timeline

I was listening to Writing Excuses and they mentioned a software program named Aeon Timeline and so I looked it up and they're having a half-price sale at the moment. So I bought and downloaded it and now after playing around with it for a bit, I'm still at the "How the hell do you use this thing?" stage. I'll get there, no doubt, but it's just a bit overwhelming at the moment. This will come in handy, I think, for outlining my SF Epic I have planned.

If anyone has any experience or tips for using this for outlining a novel, please don't hesitate to give me some advice.

David