• 292

Seeking beta readers for my mystery thriller MS! - happy to beta read in return.

Hello everyone, 

this is my first time posting, so I hope this is the right way to go about it! I've just finished my manuscript which is a Los Angeles-set mystery thriller, and I'm looking for some objective reviews on how its working. Either the first three chapters, or if anyone is interested - the whole manuscript.

Of course I'm more than happy to beta read in return.

Please get in touch if this sounds like something you'd be interested in. 

all the best

0 0 0 0 0 0
Replies (23)
    • Hi Rob,

      I would be happy to read your first three chapters, because I know what it's like when you need feedback and you've run out of friends and relatives...

      Vicki Lloyd

      0 0 0 0 0 0
      • Hi Vicki, thats great, thank you! Whats your email address? Or can I send it directly through townhouse?


        0 0 0 0 0 0
        • Hi Vicki, Just sent the first three chapters via messenger - hopefully it should come through! thanks again, Rob

          0 0 0 0 0 0
        • Hi Rob, I would be happy to read your first three chapters.  I am polishing my manuscript just now (historical mystery thriller) but I read all kinds - Lee Childs and Michael Connelly among them.  All the best, Angela

          0 0 0 0 0 0
          • Hi Angela, thats great, thank you so much! Whats your email address? Or can I send directly through townhouse?



            0 0 0 0 0 0
            • Hi Rob,  I think you can use Messenger if you prefer that.  It's at the top of the page somewhere when you enter the Townhouse.  I am looking forward to reading your work.  It's interesting how one person's everyday environment is exotic to another person.  It's one way to engage with another country, especially when you can't travel!  Angela

              0 0 0 0 0 0
            • Hello Rob, I have lived in Los Angeles all my life, over 50 years (maybe you live here as well) and am interested to see if your novel has a Los Angeles feel.  You can send me your first 3 chapters through townhouse ... except do I need to be a member of the club to access Townhouse?  I would prefer not to send my email address.



              0 0 0 0 0 0
              • Hi Ellen,

                thats great, thank you! I actually live in the UK but I've spent a lot of time in LA and have family in Pasadena where the majority of the story is set. I will try and send the chapters through the messenger - hopefully it will work!

                thanks again

                0 0 0 0 0 0
              • Hey again Rob, I'm not sure if I should message you through Townhouse or if this is okay?  I read your chapters twice and as an Angelena, married to a man who grew up in Pasadena (rhymes), I think you captured some good details that show knowledge and enrich your writing: The wildfires, an unfortunate fact of LA life.  Pasadena city hall description.  Is Fin's apartment in downtown LA?  Maybe he can see some landmarks from his window that will make his location more specific?  Some parts of downtown LA - at least this was the case years ago, maybe still - the apartments are high end and beautiful and $$$.  Others are more like where Fin would live.  Unfortunately I can't bring any street names/intersections to mind.

                Some of your spellings are British, not American!  I suggest a find and replace for kerb->curb, smelt->smelled, bastardisation->bastardization.  (I'm assuming Fin despite his Irish name is an American boy.)

                I think your descriptions were great, especially of Shovelhead the cop and Fin's father in law.  Both made me smile.

                If you want to heighten the LA feel of your work, I suggest reading Charles Bukowski if you haven't already.  He is a great writer anyway, and he lived in some terrible neighborhoods - years ago, probly, 40s-50s - but from him you might get some street or neighborhood names to research.  

                Thanks and good luck 🐈 

                0 0 0 0 0 0
                • This is really useful feedback Ellen, thank you! As I'm in the UK its currently written in British English rather than US, but will change that if I end up submitting to any agents over there. I will address your thoughts in the ms. Thanks again, Rob

                  0 0 0 0 0 0
                • Hello Rob.

                  Are you going to edit your book according to the recommendations you've received so far?  I'd like to volunteer for a read of your first three chapters, at first at least.  I'll confess some of my motivation for this is to test this site.  I've only been on here a few days and I'm still discovering how it works.

                  A couple of your correspondents have suggested you send them your text in the site's messenger, did you do that?  I've just looked for the button and found it. WooHoo!

                  If you want to attempt both me and messenger, go on then.

                  0 0 0 0 0 0
                  • Hi Alison, thats great, thank you! Yes I'm new to the site myself so still figuring it out but will try and send though messenger. And yes - basically just looking for some objective feedback on how its reading and if anything doesn't work/needs tweaking ....etc. I'll try and send through messenger now...

                    thanks again

                    0 0 0 0 0 0
                    • Hello Rob,

                      I've read your first three chapters but only once, just to get a feel for your writing.  So far I have to say that your English way of expression is fine for me because I'm English.  There is a difference and often writers born and bred in the USA write American.  It's not simply spelling, it's a cultural thing too.  If you really want to evoke the essence of LA as the backdrop to your story and write it at street level, which I think you do, you're going to need to read lots from those who've been before you.

                      I know nothing of LA.  It only mattered to me that your story was set in a city with city cops, urban settings and city sensibilities.  I Imagined my English perception of LA, coloured by years of watching television!

                      Here's a thing.  Why do you want to write an LA based crime thriller?  Have you been watching television too?  I wonder if you might be taking on some well established competition in that field and I'm sure your characters already feel familiar.

                      "If there's a gun above the mantlepiece, it better go off!" Anton Chekov.  What that means is you can distract your readers and slow down the pace of a thriller too much if you concentrate on too much scene setting and poetic description.  On the other hand I'm wondering how much of the detail I've read is going to be important later.  For example the bowl of soup which gets upended in the intro and spreads out in fingers on the carpet comes back to explain how the police assume Red met a sudden end.  Oooooh lovely, thread detail into the plot why don't you?  I like that, it's fun.

                      I don't think three chapters is enough to know where you're going yet.  At present I'm thinking it's going to be a pretty typical crime thriller in that your hero stands accused and as the story unfolds he'll seek to prove his innocence.  Are we having a twist at the end where he does but we discover the bastard actually did it and he's going to get away with it?

                      Finally, how will his addiction to self strangulation be relevant?  I sense that this might be more personal interest than plot driver!

                      Do you want opinions in the form of constructive reviews you can send in with your submission when the time comes?  Are we impressing an agent or Amazon here?

                      You can send me some more if you like.

                      0 0 0 0 0 0
                      • Hello Rob, I'm about to start chapter 9.   SS Unsinkable 2 ?  Brilliant!   

                        I still feel that your characters are a bit stereotypical and your writing style with short sharp sentences with back story interspersed reminds me a lot of Sin City.  I can hear the voice of Whathisface played by Mickey Rourke as I read.  Three chapters wasn't enough to get used to this but I'm away now.

                        I want to say that I want to read the whole thing because I'm into it, I want to know the story.  I'm enjoying it!  More later..........

                        0 0 0 0 0 0
                      • Yes, count me in I would like to beta read your first three chapters. 

                        0 0 0 0 0 0
                        • Hey Ieuan, thats great, thank you! I will send them over via messenger.


                          0 0 0 0 0 0
                        • Hi Rob Happy to read three chapters.  Messenger is fine or you can pin it in the file section on your page

                          0 0 0 0 0 0
                          • Brilliant, thanks Jaye! I will send through messenger shortly. thanks!

                            0 0 0 0 0 0
                            • Rob, Hi!

                              First impressions - very very good - the start drew me in and the follow-up did not disappoint.  The MC is an interesting character - clearly lots of flaws but since you have conveyed very well his shock at his parents' deaths we know he probably isn't the killer the police think he is - despite the fingerprints!    

                              The style is very Chandleresque as perhaps it should be for an American set mystery thriller - and several of the images were both striking and apt - my body folding in on itself, the air escaping my lungs in a whimper. I felt hollowed out, like a bag of skin with no bones, for example.  I did feel occasionally that you were striving for the unusual simile or metaphor a bit too much - the condemnatory blush of a backstreet sex-shop, for example, where pehaps just the blush of the backstreet sex-shop would do.

                               Some of the spare prose worked very well - Other than that, it was bare. But not in an intentional, minimalist way. Just bare, unloved and unliving. No artwork, no photographs, no plants. I'd been in this place nearly six months but still felt like a stranger here, an impostor in a life I’d not chosen but probably deserved.  Not just a distinct impression of a lost life but a hint at previous wrong-doing which he now regrets. Great.

                              One or two minor grammar/spelling points Page 5 no comma between cheap beer and and

                              Page 6  It's not the stripe down Robertson's face that's the Ziggy Sawdust impersonator so perhaps insert making him look like.  Not quite so clean stylistically of course.

                              Page 18 The policewoman's skin cannot be both smooth and taut (Word's spell check strikes).  I'd stick with smooth and suggest the tautness some other way.

                              Having said all the above I'd certainly buy it - the acid test!

                              0 0 0 0 0 0
                              • Jaye - thank you so much, really appreciate your comments, and I will certainly be tweaking those bits you mention, good spots! Very kind of you so thanks again for taking the time! R

                                0 0 0 0 0 0
                              • As I said earlier Rob I love your novel and think it is going to sell well. Reminds me of the Mickey Spillane books. I loved the detailed character descriptions, they must have take a lot of time. Now for the critique, naturally these are my impressions Rob and may be wrong and are personal preferences at times, so take everything with a pinch of soup, er I mean salt.

                                Red, not sure if this is the right title. Will have to read whole book to decide. Love the start and especially the soup, because I eat that soup myself and it is colour oatmeal. Maria spent thirty years making that soup, Red liked no variations in the recipe, a no veg guy. 

                                'Dropped his gaze' maybe wordy, try looked down. Into his mouth, may be too obvious. He spooned his soup is okay. 

                                'Turned his attention', wordy, try Turned the TV down. I know this is nit-picking, ignore if you like.

                                3rd person narrator.

                                "I like the small details, inconsequential but interesting because they are true to every-day life like the skin on the soup when cold, and the descriptions like flecks of paint on canvas p3. plume of crimson - good, echoing of the walls -good,  sick pastiche of modern art -excellent. 

                                P5 'Please don't judge me.' You seem to be addressing the reader here, big no, no in writing, sorry to say. It can irritate your readers, it doesn't irritate me, but best not to.

                                I loved the paragraph describing the light outside his house on p6 It i so good I am going to post it:

                                The synthetic pink glow seeped in through my spindly plastic blinds, casting slashes across the room like prison bars. And this was not some jolly good-old-days yuletide hue, it was more the strip-light pink of a Vegas casino or the condemnatory blush of a backstreet sex shop." Posted under 'fait -use' :)

                                This sort of writing is fun reading, fun, fun, fun.

                                p7 like 'Ziggy Stardust' reference and 'less a room than a closet.' p10

                                2. Liked the dog story, true. Red explanation of death in reference to his own death was pure magic in my opine, good writing. 'Smelt like vomit - good so true, but prefer smelled unless American prefer smelt.

                                p17 did the clock read 8:52 am, was it a digital clock, or did it read 08:52 hours. No bigee, just wondering. Was the coffee in porcelain cups or paper cups, depends on the era.

                                The nicotine fingers sounded wordy to me, maybe: Fingers of L.H. stained yellow from smoking.

                                Redundancies or unnecessary: 'it did not' after 'modicum of comfort' and 'on it for me'.

                                Love the hook, cab driver buying an expensive house, how did he do it we ask.

                                Rutherfurd is a proper name, but is Rutherford more well known. Just asking.

                                'for' is missing with the a) and b p23

                                extra space found in p24 'much  choice'

                                Is 'okay' better rather than 'OK' just asking.

                                Question tag. See it, agreed? not See it. Agreed.

                                handmade - one word

                                Covered my rent passage - huge exaggeration, jars, for me that is.

                                Don't enjoy the parentheses comment, they seem to be addressing the reader. 

                                After all the nit-picking and personal preferences this is a thoroughly good read and yes, I would buy the book for a long plane flight. Reading the novel Shogun you will find many grammatical and misspellings and that sold 19 million copies world wide. I find your writing as good if not better and Shogun is a very good novel, as interesting and informative. And you have good readability. 

                                Reading the first 3 pages was a pleasure and I am sure the overall plot is as good as your writing. I hope so because I will be reading the whole book starting Monday.

                                best wishes and get rich quick. :)

                                0 0 0 0 0 0
                                • Hi Ieuan, thank you so much for taking the time and for your very kind comments! It is sincerely appreciated, and I will implementing your thoughts into the manuscript. So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks again, Rob.

                                  0 0 0 0 0 0
                                • Hello Rob,

                                  I don't think I'm qualified to comment on the technical aspects of your novel writing.  This is going to be purely from a reader's perspective.  I can tell you I got used to your writing style quickly and I was never confused or needed to go back to check anything.  This sometimes happens because I only get time to read in pieces when I can.  I remembered your plot!

                                  The detail in the plot threads was sweet, like the soup not stamped into the carpet because no one intent on suicide would bother to avoid it, astute detective work there!   Your jokes were funny, I laughed out loud a few times.  

                                  Sadly I have to admit I got bored around chapter 20.  I feel really guilty for saying so, sorry.  It's just that all your characters are the same as all American crime drama characters and your story felt like the American crime drama.  Fin is the same world weary hard case, troubled and down on his luck, divorced and estranged from his daughter. Your whores are standard, the Police are the same cops all American crime dramas have and even the dialogue in the interview rooms down town with Jack the Lawyer is straight from the script of American TV.  

                                  There's the crime boss, the street level fixer and thugs who do the dirty works, all the same as usual.  I scrolled up to the end to see what I'd miss if I gave up and thought "Oh no, not another gun fight!" but there was.  American crime dramas always have those.

                                  The title still intrigues me.  I still wonder if the self strangulation thing is a fetish of yours because it didn't seem to be an essential plot driver. 

                                  Please don't be offended.  I'd feel as guilty for not telling you what I thought as I do for having to!  It's a fine American crime drama, you've written it well and I can't see why you won't sell it.  Jericho likes it.  Well done, good luck.

                                  I hope you keep us posted on how your story gets on in the wider world, I'd really like to know.

                                  0 0 0 0 0 0
                                  Not logged in users can't 'Comments Post'.
                                  •  · 3 friends