What is authorial intrusion? Authorial intrusion is a literary technique authors may use to communicate directly with their reader, speaking to them as themselves rather than through the guise of a character’s dialogue to comment on the story (perhaps to give their opinion on the events of the novel or to hint at what’s to […]
Even if you don't put it all on the page, your characters (and settings) all have a fascinating, complex past that informs who they are and how they act. That's their backstory: everything that happened to them before your story began. It's really helpful to know your protagonist's backstory intimately as it will explain their motivations, strengths, weaknesses and inner conflict, but your readers don't need to know all the details.
Beta readers are your book's trial audience. Just like Facebook rolls out 'beta' versions of new updates to test them on a few (or few thousand) users before launching, authors often show their early manuscript to beta readers to get feedback before revising and sharing with professionals or self-publishing. Many writers distinguish between alpha and beta readers: an alpha reader, as the name suggests, is the first person to ever lay eyes on your first draft in its raw, unpolished state and give you critiques that lets you revise and tidy your manuscript before sharing more widely for feedback.
This stage focuses on sentence-level issues like spelling, grammar and consistency and should always come after a developmental edit because it’s likely you’ll be making some big changes to your manuscript – maybe even deleting whole chunks – and it’s a waste to have text edited if it’s not definitely staying! From the CIEP: Copyediting focuses on […]
Typically, a developmental editor will read your manuscript and then either write a report full of feedback and recommendations for strengthening your story (which might be called a critique or assessment or something similar) or do a full developmental edit which usually means marking up your manuscript with comments and suggestions to accompany a written report. I leave my comments in the margin using Word's track changes feature but all editors work differently.
When it comes to fiction, genre is the category or type of story being told, such as horror, fantasy or mystery. Labelling a book with a particular genre helps readers find the right book for them because it gives them clues about what sort of writing, plot and tone they can expect from your novel. Genres and sub-genres comes with certain expectations, conventions and tropes and although it’s great to play with those expectations, mix genres and put a fresh twist on familiar tropes, there are often distinctive characteristics and devices that a lot of readers want and actively look for in their favourite genre. The best way to get familiar with a genre or sub-genre is to read lots of it!
Sometimes it feels necessary to share important information – like backstory or a description setting – with the reader at a particular moment in the story, but is it really the right moment? And are you sharing the information in the best way? Overwhelming the reader with detail in a big chunk can be problematic for lots of reasons. For one, it's likely to be distracting and pull focus from the 'here and now' story, like pausing a football match right before the final minute to show clips of the previous game, or a singer stopping a gig halfway through to talk to you at length about their tour schedule.
Sometimes just called 'content', this refers to edgy elements and themes in a story that are deemed inappropriate for younger readers. Sex, swearing and graphic violence are usually out of bounds in middle grade fiction (but are acceptable in YA), and the gatekeepers of children's literature – parents, teachers and librarians – may restrict books that break these conventions.
MC is just shorthand for main character!
Middle grade is a category of fiction aimed at children, typically aged between 8 and 12. Of course, some younger children will start reading middle grade earlier, while a lot of older children will keep reading it even after they've transitioned to YA. Despite the fluidity of the audience, 8-12 is an important age range to keep in mind because publishers, booksellers and librarians rely on it heavily for categorisation and you'll need to understand where on the shelf your book might sit.