Cup of Dcaf: Off to the Alpha Readers


It’s a scary thing. All Flames Cast is nearing completion. Technically, I suppose, this is the first draft. In a day or two, I will have checked off every plot point and checkpoint on my outline. I’ll have a word count and a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

On the other hand, this really isn’t a first draft. All Flames Cast is in its third incarnation. It started out, as some of you may remember, as Seeds of Doubt back in 2012. I got pretty far into the first draft of that book, working off the same outline document that I’ve had open on my computer for the past month straight. But, as first drafts tend to go, it was really, really flawed. I had to throw out about 40,000 words and basically start over. And then, this spring, I took two months off to revisit the outline and a bunch of the chapters I’d already written, giving it a once (or twice)-over and working out some of the kinks.

And now, with three short chapters left to finish, I’m working with my alpha readers.

This is the first time I’ve ever gotten a novel to the point where I actually felt comfortable sending it to alphas. I’ve written really bad first drafts in the past, and I gave up on them. They were just awful. Irredeemable. One of them was basically a plagiarized version of Eye of the World. (In my defense, I wrote that book in eighth grade).

All Flames Cast is a different animal entirely. I’ve found a style I’m comfortable with. My prose is stronger, my plotting more coherent. I’ve managed to keep track of things through copious notes and a more streamlined outlining method. I actually like the story. These are all things that tell me that it’s time to send it to my alphas.

So, after meeting with them last night, I compiled the first chunk and sent it off. Now, I’m scared. It’s exciting, of course, but terrifying at the same time. In two or three days, I’ll be sending the entire book. For the first time, a completed novel of mine will be out in the world, inviting criticism.

What if it sucks?

What if the things in my mind that make sense and fill me with a sense of wonder don’t actually work on the page? What if my magic system is a confused babble? What if my characters are flat, or a bunch of jerks? What if my mysteries don’t hold up? What if…?

And that, I realize, is why I have alpha readers. To find the things I missed in the last nearly-three years. To tell me to cool my heels on this plot line, or get a move on with that one.

It’s going to be out of my hands.

I guess I’ll just have to move on and write a novella or something while I’m waiting…

2 thoughts on “Cup of Dcaf: Off to the Alpha Readers

  1. Congrats at having reached the end. It’s its own beginning, but the beauty of a draft you’re comfortable with is that you can critically look at the critique and see if it helps what you’re aiming to say. You’re still the author, you still get to choose what to keep or cut.

    Just be ready for a mental crash when it comes back marked up worse than a bottle of water in the Sahara.

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