Sentinel Slash Virtual Season Interview with Fox

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Sentinel Slash Virtual Season Interview with Fox
Interviewer: Sentinel Slash Virtual Season
Interviewee: Fox
Date(s): 2000?
Medium: online
Fandom(s): The Sentinel
External Links: interview
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Fox was interviewed for Sentinel Slash Virtual Season for her role as a beta reader.

Part of a Series

See Sentinel Slash Virtual Season Interview Series.


I am a raging perfectionist. It bugs me to almost no end to read something that is, critically, very good, but whose author apparently didn't know or care enough to, say, run the spell-checker. Or find out the appropriate ways to use a semicolon. Or learn the difference between "imply" and "infer." These are fairly simple things that (here's where the language snob in me comes out; I try to keep her down, really I do) it seems to me literate people ought to know. That's how I got into beta-ing, anyway. Pushed over the edge by mistakes that were too many to be typos. So I came in on the proofreading side. But then I realized that the same process exists on a larger scale, that there are issues of continuity and accuracy at the plot level as well as just at the language level, and that someone with the (-ahem-) attention to detail I have could also be quite successful on that side as well.
A preference ... that's kind of an ambiguous question. :-) Just between J-angst and B-angst?

Hard to say. I tend to reject the That's How It's Done reasoning, so I heartily approve of writers who refuse to have Blair kidnapped, or to make Jim all stoic and gruff, or whatever. Thinking outside the box -- that's the way I want to go. At the same time, though, cliches get to be that way by being true a whole lot of times, so there's something to be said for habit.

I guess that's a No, I have no real preference. [g]
Um ... probably getting to let loose in my comments to writers who already know me well. I tend to start of sort of restrained, but once I have a rapport with a writer, no holds are barred. I've threatened to fling myself into traffic if a writer didn't quit overusing the same word. I've used the sentence "Come on, you're a much better writer than this" with another. I've -- well, you'll see, because now I'm here, and pretty soon I'll be comfy. :-) The hardest part is sitting back and watching the writer get high praise and accolades for something you *know* wouldn't have been as good (or, in some cases, *any* good) without your guidance. Good writers acknowledge (and occasionally grovel at the feet of) their betas, but general readers don't. And, of course, why would they? They don't see the draft before it's done -- that's the whole reason I'm there, is to get rid of the blemishes before the readers see the finished product. How do they know if I just gave it a quick polish with a brass rag or rebuilt the thing from the ground up? They don't, and they shouldn't, but that doesn't change the fact that the hardest part of being a beta (or other sidekick; Dr. Watson, for example, or George Harrison, or -- gasp! -- B. Sandburg) is watching the main event get all the recognition.
I'm able a lot of the time to shake loose the ideas that are tangled together and stuck in the writer's mind. A human thesaurus of words and phrases, that's me. :-) This comes not just from reading the drafts, but from discussing the thing with the writer as well -- she'll tell me in a sort of roundabout way what effect she's after, and that will help me help her nail it down succinctly and effectively.

I am also, as I noted above, useful as a human spelling- and grammar- and punctuation-checker. :-) I catch things the writer might never have noticed.

Both of these are specific instances of the general maxim that it's a good idea to have someone involved who's a few steps further away from the thing than the writer herself is. I can find the stray commas and apostrophes, because I didn't write the draft and therefore don't subconsciously make it fit my own expectations. I can rework the stubborn sentence because I didn't come up with the idea and therefore my mind doesn't resist *any* changing it around, even though that changing-around does eventually result in a brighter, sharper-focused version of the original.