Okay, that's beautiful and he's a beta splendens fish, but I'm talking about Beta readers.
Beta readers are those wonderful people who can look at your writing and tell you things that you can't see clearly because you're too close. They tell you when something's not clear, they tell you the theme of your story when you can't see it - they ROCK.
If you haven't connected with beta readers, find a writing forum and offer to read - it's polite to offer time and energy before asking for the same. And I've learned as much or more from reading others' stories as from others reading mine.
Last night, a good friend who read Lawgiver in all its first draft glory let me bounce things off her and she nailed the quality I need to emphasize. Thanks, Lisa!
For those of you who've read Lawgiver, thank you. And here's a snip, so you'll understand what I'm talking about:
"What is it about the past?" asked Pel. He took off his sweater and draped it over her shoulders. Su pulled it close – it smelled like Pel's soap. Just a hint of sandalwood.
"Thanks," she muttered, pulling the collar up to her ears. "I'm not sure what you mean."
"Why do you spend so much time with the past? You're as pure a Mercian as I've ever met. But most Mercians look forward, worried about inventing the future. Why do you look in the opposite direction?"
"Because it was better, more hopeful. There was magic in the past and we've lost it." Su had stop, to blink back the tears that were threatening. "We're killing each other, Pel. If it's not the bombers, it's the gangs in the cities. So I look backwards."
He rubbed her back through the sweater. She leaned back, relaxing a little. "As I remember, there were wars and robberies back in Vidar's time. They weren't very peaceful."
"But God did something about it. He sent Vidar and D'Guerre to stop us from killing ourselves." She thought of the three-foot high letters spray-painted on a ruined wall – God is Dead.
Pel pulled her close and laid her head on his shoulder. "Give him time, Su. That's where Faith comes in."
Su smiled and let him hold her. Faith had never been her strongest talent.
Betta fish photo gakked from aquaristicsblog.com under creative commons license.