Initial Beta Feedback and Style

Last week I sent over my current (finished last year) draft of The Felled Gods to a beta reader. I’d forgotten just how many passes I’ve actually taken, and was quite relieved to notice that at least the first chapter isn’t terrible.

Until she began reading it. Hah.

“Right, I’ve started. Gonna split this up into chapter or 2 chapter chunks. Though I might need you to explain how you use semicolons.”

“I have finished the first chapter. Dun-dun-duuuuun. I forced my brain to ignore the weird semicolons. It worked. I’m interested now.”

This is an interesting point. Stylistically, some grammar use can be different, depending on the type of writing and the aim of the author. However, despite following what I believe to be Strunk and White’s (1999) formulae for grammatical use, my beta reader is not the first person to query their use.

In fact even doing an internet search for semi-colon use brings up a bunch of links about “the controversial semi-colon.” So I’m not alone in my stylistic choices, yet it wasn’t even something I’d remembered to consider in this most recent draft.

Now, with fresh eyes, I can see some places where it might be less confusing to switch them out for commas, or conjunctions.

Are you aware of stylistic differences in your writing? How do you respond to initial feedback where it may not be standard?

2 responses to “Initial Beta Feedback and Style

  1. Ah, the much maligned semicolon. I find that, culturally, semicolons take on a life of their own. For instance, students from Latin America often use semis in place of periods, leading to paragraph-long sentences that take forever to read (my mom’s guilty of this). In fiction, I try to avoid them because I had a similar response from readers.

    • Yup. I’ve given my beta reader the challenge “let me know if you find a semi colon you like / approve of the context for” hah. Will be having a think about my style and what the difference would be without it.

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