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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 00:44:51 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: The Good Luck Song (0/5) (fwd)


Quick overview after having read it once...

May I first say thank you for the the carte blanche on comments? I always like detailed comments, but for some reason my Beta Readers always send me little notes that say "I liked it" and leave it at that :-/ I can never tell whether or not that's a good thing... (and I'm afraid to ask!) So I'm always a little shy about saying anything beyond "good". You however said you want "constructive comments".. So...

You had me all set up for thinking that I would be getting to tinker with something and making loads of comments and suggestions and then you send me this nearly.. perfect.. beautiful thing.

I'm disappointed. :-(

I mean I'm happy, because its a great story. But there isn't much for me to do (I will still send detailed comments btw)

I LOVE your prose dear, and the exposition... I mean you actually HAVE exposition. I nearly died from shock. I like exposition and miss it because we don't see much of it in Fan Fic. (or at least it's rare in the Fic I have read) and its GREAT exposition. Tight, very well written, nice style, description, action, and dialog very well blended. The transitions are a bit abrupt, They work, they help draw the reader into the next section quite nicely (a sort of mental "heads up the trains moving again") But abrupt transitions aren't my favorite.

Like the plot. Like what the plot implies, I for one have never thought that Giles would be happy just lying around gathering dust in library, he seems to be the type of person would be very interested in little mysteries so this bears out. The one suggestion that I would make is to have the bad luck be a little more personal as in spread out into John and Giles' life... (you know...Gods looking down from above and going.. I remember you! your the one who messed up the song! Take that you vile visigoth.... and the tires on the car go flat) This might up the urgency a bit. But isn't necessary as what you have works fine.

See above gushing about narration. (pea-green with envy over here)

    is how do the characters sound? I think they all three sound alike: generic Betsy characters. I need them to sound like distinct people, and Giles needs to sound like Giles.

Three british men standing around do tend to blend into one another some kind of protective camouflage methinks :-) Three suggestions on helping them stand out as individuals.

1. Make either Mark or John some other nationality then british and change the dialogue a little to reflect that.

2. More description of the characters, What are they wearing at the camp fire? how do they look in Robes? Does Mark look like a classic Druid priest and John like a child who escaped into the woods in his dad's nightshirt? That kind of thing. Nothing extreme. The description of John at the beginning is great btw. More like that!

3. Giles, He sounds like Giles its just that three british men of similar background and education ....(I think the british have been cloning for years) A trick I like is to take one of his ticks from the show, cleaning the glass, ruffling his hair etc. and throwing that into the description.. but I think you did that? I'm not sure. I'll comment if I hit one in the detailed comments section (to follow)

Again more detailed comments to follow but mostly I loved it write more soon!.


Date: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 02:24:09 EST
Subject: Re: The Good Luck Song (1/5) (fwd)

In a message dated 97-10-26 06:00:07 EST, you write:

Like the description. Like the set up. Have you considered switching the order around? Moving the last sentence up and using it as the first line? Getting the description first and then the explanation? Also is the above the British spelling of archaeologist cause my spell checker didn't like it (I believe my spell checker is possessed by the devil :-).

Very nice!!

LOVE the description of John. It gives a clear picture of the character and it makes him interesting.

The two "mornings' are close together kind of pulls at the rhythm a bit. Perhaps change one to breakfast or brunch or some such? (you did say you wanted nit picky didn't you?)

Ok doing the next section en masse because they're isn't really anything to criticize and my suggestions are for the whole thing so... scan down.

Ok this whole above section is great. The dialog is wonderful and well carried out. beautifuly written. This is one area where you could make John and Giles more distinct from each other although really you do that at the beginning with the description,,, They do sound a lot of like (as they should similar education and background) I hate to suggest tampering with this because I love it. It sparkles. But if you added some description that would take care of it and imprint on the reader how different the two men are. After having given this advice I suggest you disregard because (at this point in the story) it isn't necessary and I really like it the way it is.

Great cliff hanger and set up. Well Done. :-)

Part two follows tomorrow or maybe tuesday depends how much of a fit "Lie To Me" throws me into. Hopefully tomorrow.


Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 02:57:53 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: The Good Luck Song (2/5) (fwd)

In a message dated 97-10-26 06:00:23 EST, bentley@umich.edu writes:

Where are they? Is it the brunch thing again?

Portrait of a Librarian <g> They act like they are happy to work in a lending library but they fear for every book that walks out the door.

Description of physical surroundings and the characters would not be out of place. This is the 2nd chapter and things could have changed. John could be losing his tan etc. Ok I like action to break up the dialogue I think it helps keep the reader involved in the story. (Am I the one who says expand instead of tighten? <g>)

Nice exposition like that you gave us the info as prose instead of dialogue and that the question brought us back to the conversation.

At this point since we clearly have Giles explaining this you might want to switch back into dialogue with the paragraph below.

How does Giles feel about this? What is his attitude about it? What? How does John think Giles feels about this? Is he excited or depressed or what? (read ***** likes description)

How does John feel about this? This last bit is a bit dry because we have very little clue as to how the characters (Giles and John) are reacting/ Have reacted to the information.

Very Nice section above.

Good!! Like it. Tight. We get Giles emotional state and a reinforcing of his and Johns past in three lines or less.

Maybe we should find out they're in the cafe earlier? That way when he remembers it the reader isn't just realizing it. How come Giles calls John by his christian name but John still calls him Giles?

hee hee... Pride is going before a Fall I think. Like it. Giles rushing in where Angel fears to tread.

Nice observation

    "No, it's not. Listen."

    Giles outlined his plan.


NOTES: on part two.

Mostly I would suggest a little more description. It helps to break up the dialogue and reinforce the characters. We don't know much about how the two men are reacting to mystery they are investigating and I would like to know that. The section with Giles explaining the Little Lower Newington thing in prose is good but it isn't necessary to break it up quite so much. I would suggest John interrupt once and then switch to dialogue.


Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 02:47:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: The Good Luck Song (3/5) (fwd)

part 3 of 5:

Ok this is one of my favorite bits.

Great description! Takes the whole outdoor wood ceremony and puts it in a understandable context. Very good!!.

Nice foreshadowing. If they debated how to do it then they may not know what they're doing.

Very nice description.

LOLOLOL Beautiful (have I mentioned this is my favorite bit?)

Lovely. Giles was pleased. the World was not. Very nice. illustrates for us clearly just how much and deep the mulch is they have buried themselves up to the neck in.

Uhm could you vague that up for me? <g>

    Giles pulled his notes from his pocket, double-checking the words as he sang them. The seven-year-old at the piano saw the disapproval in his teacher's eyes, and his heart filled with hurt. He was doing everything right; why were the trees angry? Why?

I don't think the last why is necessary. It's clear he doesn't know whats going on.

Nice last line of the section. Short, sweet and to the point.


Notes on Part Three:

This is my favorite part. I like it. I wasn't kidding when I said you were good with exposition and this whole section is proof.. Very well done.


Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 02:49:09 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: The Good Luck Song (4/5) (fwd)

I wonder what John would think about that? He's an adult even if he didn't believe he knew as much about what was going on as Giles.

Now I would think the forces of nature would spread the joy in this. As I mentioned before I think it would help increase the tension level and keep Giles and John focused on a solution if they're somewhat rash actions had had personal consequences.

Ties in nicely with the debating about it in part three.

Sing with me and find the Key? Very nice because words and music are not at all the same thing. I've heard music and math both referred to as separate languages and in the blending of words and music he would be trying to speak two languages at once for a highly critical audience I like this story a lot Betsy!

You mean he hadn't questioned them before? You might cut the timeline a bit and have John about to go to sumanistan to question villagers. Keeps the tension up. Hard to think of him there for five months and not at all concerned about nearly being killed by Mother Nature because of something the villagers knew all about..

Bad Librarian No biscuit.

Very smart

    Today, however, he was too busy for that. Work had picked up lately--when he least had time for it, of course--and yet another visitor was due in soon. Not a colleague, but an outside researcher, coming to pick up the local histories of the general Newington area.

Now I can understand him being busy but I can't understand him not wanting to especially question the Lower Newington visitor. Busy or not.

Glad he decided that he wasn't to busy to talk to him.

Good above.

Some description of Giles physical and emotional state would not be amiss at this point. Have you thought about having Mark be a woman? It would help set the characters off.

How is Mark reacting to this interrogation? Is it obvious that Giles is getting very excited about what he is being told?

See now if Mark were a woman Giles could kiss her. Of course he could still kiss Mark even if he is a man but as I understand it the English are even more uptight about that kind of thing then american rednecks.

I'm sorry Betsy but it is getting late so Part Five and the Overview tomorrow. Mea Culpa.


Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 01:14:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: The Good Luck Song (5/5) (fwd)


I'm so sorry! This has been sitting in my outgoing mail for a week and I forgot it completely!! Deepest apologies for the delay.


Good opening.


How exactly did Giles manage to persuade him? What about Mark makes him willing to test such a belief or at least pretend to go along with it?

Does John need to be there or does he just want to be there? and The fact that everyone except Giles uses christian names seems a bit odd. especially in his and John's case.

Who is speaking?

Why not? What would happen if they stopped again? Or blew it again? Have they considered the consequences... this time?

Very nice bringing on the Heavy Presence early.. it obvisouly has been waiting and it wants something.

It or they?

    and was looking at him. All watching, noting, waiting..for what? For him to mess up again? To do it right, finally? The attention was smothering. It took more effort to breathe, to move, to remember what came next. The Guardians had waited over two centuries to hear the ceremony again, to feel needed, to feel real. They *wanted* this, and they wanted it done right

Ok who are the Guardians? Has Giles figured this out in the meantime more overt consequence might help to increase tension and to keep it up. The description of Giles physical reaction to the Guardians is first rate brings in the idea of someone/thing staring very well.

Was there a change in the Guardians when they messed up?

Very nice above!!

So these aren't the same beasties that are in sumatistan?



a physical description of what they look like now as opposed to before would be nice (I can't help it I like description and your so good at it...)

I love it!! You go girl!.



Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 01:13:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: The Good Luck Song.


Sorry it has taken so long for me to get back to you with comments. I hope you found the comments helpful. Was it what you were looking for?

I enjoyed the story very much and I can't wait to read more that you write.

I want to know who the guardians are though!! If I had one complaint it's that you played a little coy with the reader about what exactly was going on. Have you considered doing a section from the Guardians POV? I love John BTW. He is a great character and you must bring him back. Your description is great... and I want more of it.. but you probably noticed that huh? ;) The dialog is good and snappy and I like the last section when we don't know who is saying what. I wouldn't add description there. that works very well just as it is.

Please let me know if there is ever anything else I can beta-read for you (I can even be more timely if I don't get a full time job soon)

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Page created August 1998. Original material Betsy Vera (bentley@umich.edu). Page background source: Jay Boersma. This website is for information and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to infringe on copyrights held by others.