Hail to the Betas
If you’ve been following my posts, maybe you’ve read all 20 chapters of A New ZooCatron, a novella in progress I serialized on this site. It’s about cats from far out in the cosmos who encounter Earth.
Two black cats rule our home, and my husband and I enjoy most of their behaviors. Early on, after we adopted them from a shelter, S. began to caption their thoughts as we watched their antics. He imagined what the cats would say while gazing at a potted plant high above their heads or pacing the floor while we lingered [too long for them!] over empty dinner dishes and sipped our wine. At some point, S. voiced the girl cat’s musings as if she were from the planet ZooCatron whose Alpha animals were feline: “Oh, Planet ZooCatron, I’m stranded here on Earth and am trying to send you a message through this very high plant. Can you hear me?” Other space cat captions followed and the ZooCatron family joke began to take shape as a saga.
Last winter, I decided to turn that saga into a novella, just for fun, and every week I’d write and post another chapter on this site. At the end of the project, I thought “Maybe I should publish it, but not in this state. It needs some fresh eyes, not privy to our family space cat joke. It needs to be ‘out there,’ to be assessed by other writers.
Because I subscribe to a few FB writer/reader groups online, like Scribes and Bibliophiles, Dreamtime Tale Fantasy, and WE PAW Bloggers, I learned about Beta readers, those generous souls who volunteer to read other writers’ work and share their opinions about the pieces they read.
I put out a call and was surprised and delighted that three perceptive writers responded. Not only did they read the work within ten days; they also critiqued it. Each reader came from a different perspective and pointed out issues that had escaped me because, well, I wrote the work and was too immersed in it to see the matters that needed attention.
Consequently, I’ve bitten the bullet and outlined a new approach to my space cats’ adventures on Earth. My Beta readers’ objectivity and experience changed the way I look at the narrative and its details. I am so grateful for their help and hope the finished work will be stronger for it.