24 December 2012

The #1 Most Valuable Tool for a Writer

Aside from your computer, what is your favorite tool to keep handy when writing a novel? Is it Google? A dictionary or thesaurus? Flash drive? They are certainly must-haves but there is one thing that tops them all. This thing can completely change your perspective on your novel. It can bring clarity to your prose and alert you to inconsistencies in your writing or flaws in your plot. It can also gauge the authenticity of your characters as well as setting. No matter your skill level, this is the one thing all writers need yet it’s not always easy to come by.  

A beta reader.    

The greatest tool for any writer, in my opinion, is someone who reads a manuscript in its entirety and provides thorough feedback. The ideal beta buffers constructive criticism with lots of encouragement and offers practical solutions to any hiccups in plot, narrative, character development, etc. Often, they understand a writer’s needs and goals because they are writers themselves.

I love beta-reading for many reasons, including the fact that it makes me a better writer. Carefully combing through someone else’s novel heightens my awareness of the nuances in my own work. Other added benefits are building valuable relationships with other writers and getting a sneak peek at a manuscript before it’s published.

Now, just because I do some beta-reading for other people doesn’t mean that I don’t need one myself. I wrote a novel for National Novel Writing Month and am looking forward to finding a beta-reader once I’m done editing. If you need a reader too, let’s exchange manuscripts!

What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s important to have a beta reader? What’s your favorite writing tool?

(Image from freedigitalphotos.net)


  1. Beta readers are an absolute must. As writers, we're far too close to our own material, and a fresh set of eyes can see things we'll miss.

  2. Definitely! Even when I step away from something and go back, I know I'm not catching every flaw. Hope all is well William, Merry Christmas!

  3. I have two critique groups I use as my beta readers. We each meet once per month. It's been helpful having each of their opinions and suggestions on how to improve.

    Another tool I found to be useful is a membership with a local writers association. I've had so many opportunities to meet and work with many local writers in my area and I wouldn't have had those opportunities if I'd not joined the organization.

    Merry Christmas!

    1. Joining a local writers association is a great idea, I may look into that myself. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!!

  4. Jen, feel free to use that cartoon you referenced on my blog!

    Merry Christmas!

  5. I agree! I have beta readers from all walks of life, and all over the U.S. who read for me. Their responses are so helpful.