Creative fanworks challenge for The Sentinel fandom

Checkpoint #4

Jim

Here’s our fourth checkpoint and discussion of the 2017 Sentinel Big Bang.

And it’s late again – I do apologise. I was ill last weekend (some of you know I suffer from migraines) and I’m afraid I simply forgot! I’m not doing well this year, am I?

Check in time

Checking in is, as always, optional

The writing target for checkpoint #4 is 8,000 words or 4/5 of your project. This is just a soft target – something to aim for if “slow-and-steady” suits your way of writing. If you’re already ahead of that, you can pat yourself on the back. If you’re behind – don’t worry! There’s loads of time yet.

If you’re signed up as a writer, please comment to check in. Tell us about your progress and feel free to share a few details about what you’re writing and how it’s going. If you need help or if you have any questions for the mods, this is a good time to ask, too.

There’s no standard “form” for check-in this year, because we also have a writer’s discussion going on. If you don’t want to talk about your project, you can check in by joining in the discussion below.

Which leads me on to…

Each of our checkpoints this year will include a roundtable discussion on some aspect of writing. I’m offering my take on the subject, and I hope lots of you will join in with your own take on how to approach writing. This time Katef is kicking off the disussion:

Open Discussion: Working with a Beta

As a writer, is it something you do automatically, or only when absolutely necessary when it is a specific requirement? And do we always appreciate this selfless group of individuals who offer their time and talents free of charge to make the world of fanfiction a better place? Seriously, all writers benefit from constructive criticism, and a good beta is worth her (or his?) weight in gold if it means that one doesn’t post a story riddled with typos and inconsistencies. Then again, I think that each writer learns fairly quickly exactly what they need in a beta.

In my case, as a very, VERY self-critical (and somewhat insecure) individual, I will proof read and re-read endlessly everything I write looking for basic inconsistencies in plot, time-lines, etc., etc. I also constantly check things like acceptable terminology, pertinent scientific data, geography, historical references and such – which doesn’t mean to say that I don’t sometimes get things wrong – but I’m generally satisfied that my stories hang together pretty successfully. However, I’m even more fixated on correct grammar and punctuation, which is why I need a beta that is very strong in those respects. There are always instances where I know I will have slipped up, or other occasions when I simply cannot seem to work out the most elegant way of constructing a sentence or paragraph to express a particular point, and I’m more than grateful to admit that I’ve found the perfect critic in Sheila (Bluewolf). Thanks so much, Sheila!

Having said that, other writers will have other concerns, and will be looking for someone who can pick up on specific aspects of their writing, such as those mentioned above, or simply to reassure them that their stories flow smoothly with no glaring errors in content and construction. At the end of the day, there is nothing more embarrassing and upsetting than posting (or reading) a story that is plainly cobbled together with little care for the end result however good the original premise might have been. A basic Spellcheck just doesn’t cover it, sad to say.

So, what do you look for? Because there are some great betas out there, only too willing to offer their services. All we as writers need to do is to find the one who helps us create the best fiction we can.

Kate x

So – over to you. Writers – what do you look for in a beta? How do feel about working with one? Betas – how do you approach the task? What are your experiences like?

Comment below to check in and join the discussion.

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