Hi there, I'm Gilva, and I'm interested in working with authors who are fully committed to improving their writing. My notes tend to be rather scary-looking and red-pen-of-death-ish, so be prepared for that, and try to do as much self-editing as you can before you send anything to me.
What I’ll be looking for:
1.) Spelling, Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics – I’m pretty unforgiving on this, unless you’re ESL, in which case I’ll make more of an effort to explain any syntactical misdemeanors.
2.) Tense and Perspective – Is this story told in past or present tense? Is it narrated by a character (1st person) or by a third party (3rd person)? Whatever you chose, be consistent. Again, I make an exception for ESL speakers, but you should still try to be as consistent as you can.
3.) Plot Cohesion – Generally speaking, something has to happen in a story. The end should be different from the beginning, and the middle should lead us along that journey. If you are pioneering some sort of experimental style, I’m open to that, but no rambling random-events-plots please, unless it is done deliberately for comedic effect.
4.) Balancing Canon and Originality – Fanfiction needs both. If it has absolutely nothing to do with the canon, that’s fine with me as long as it’s well-written in its own right, but it may annoy your readers a bit. But it also needs to be innovative and not too cliché. Usually this is a matter of execution (how the story is handled), as opposed to the premise itself.
5.) Characterization – Give characters a personality, and make sure that they say and do things that someone like them would be likely to say or do. I’d prefer not to make the acquaintance of too many flat characters, if you don’t mind. But even well-developed characters need a watchful eye to make sure that they stay true to themselves throughout the whole story, and that’s much more fun to work on.
6.) Streamlining – Stay focused. This is arguably the most difficult thing to do, because authors can get very attached to a particular character, and are upset by the suggestion that they be modified. When possible, I try to help smooth out those little plot tumors and give them relevance to the main story, but in some cases they really ought to be removed.
7.) Word Choice – This can be a little tricky, and often subjective. However, sesquipedalian loquacisousness is definitely a bad thing, because modern audiences won't understand you. It's good to use anomalous words once in a while because they add color to your narrative, but if they're overused it becomes distracting. I read quite a lot, so I know when a word doesn’t feel right; there's a lot of subtlety in a word beyond its dictionary definition.
8.) Pacing – This is just one of those things that could always use a little more work. There is no “golden ratio” of word count to plot happenings, because it completely depends on the significance and mood of that moment. There are some common pacing faux pas I could point to, but there isn’t an umbrella solution, so it really has to be done on a case-by-case basis.
9.) Tone – In my opinion the most subtle, and therefore most difficult thing to deal with. I can give some obvious pointers here, like “Use colorful descriptions when something extraordinary is happening” and “Use simplistic language for less interesting events,” but, again, for the most part it depends on the situation.
10.) Be Bold – Challenge your characters. Challenge your readers. Challenge yourself. Life is a learning process, and the stories that stick with us are the ones that teach us things or expose us to a new point of view. That’s why we tell stories.
If you're genuinely struggling with items 1-3, you probably want to choose a different beta for now. If you're looking for help on items 4-9 I'm your man, provided that you don't wail too much when we get to item 6. Item 10 is something only you can do, but I'll do my best to help you bring it out more clearly by way of improving items 4-9.
I know I already mentioned this, but it bears repeating: be prepared. I don't want to injure anyone’s self-esteem, so make sure that your work is at a point where you feel ready to receive some honest constructive criticism. I’m usually polite, but I always speak my mind.
There are a lot of glitches with uploading beta profiles (the system replaces the last word of each paragraph with br/ symbols), so I’d prefer not to mess with this now that I’ve finally got it looking the way it’s supposed to. If you’re curious what types of projects I’m open for right now, please check my main profile; I update it frequently.