Hello, friends!  Welcome to September’s meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a support group for insecure writer’s like myself.  If you’d like to learn more about this amazing group, click here!

This month’s optional I.W.S.G. question is:

If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

I’d have to pick Frank Herbert, the author of Dune, one the greatest science fiction novels of all time.  Of course there are other Sci-Fi authors I’d love to meet and chat with.  I wish I could talk politics with Mary Shelley and H.G. Wells, and I feel like Arthur C. Clark and Isaac Asimov would be great people to turn to for career advise.  But for the purposes of beta reading, it’s got to be Herbert.

First off, have you read Dune?  I mean, forget about all the Sci-Fi stuff.  Forget about all those planets and spaceships and psychic superpowers.  Forget about the giant sandworms and Fremen warriors and the plans within plans within plans.  At the most basic, most fundamental level, the way Frank Herbert strings a sentence together is marvelous.  It’s prose elevated almost to the level of poetry.  Even if Herbert wrote in some other genre, I’d love getting feedback from someone who had such mastery over the English language!

But of course, Frank Herbert does (I mean, did) write science fiction, and there are precious few Sci-Fi authors who handle the sciency stuff so artfully.  When you read Dune, you might not even notice all the ecology lessons sprinkled throughout the book.  That’s real science.  You’re learning real science!  But the science is integrated seamlessly into the story, like any other aspect of setting or plot would be.   I’d love to get a little guidance from a man who could pull off a trick like that!

Now I’ve worked with a lot of beta readers over the years, some good, some not so good.  The not-so-good ones make writing feel like a chore, with lots of rules and regulations.  Based on what I’ve read about Frank Herbert, I don’t think he’d be like that.  Shortly after Herbert’s death in 1986, Sci-Fi author Ben Bova wrote this about him:

He knew pain.  But to Frank, pain was something you got around, one way or the other, so you could get on with the main business of life: having fun.  Creating great novels was fun.  Being with friends was fun.  Living life to its fullest was the real goal of existence, and he did exactly that.  Life was a banquet, as far as Frank was concerned; his advice was to pull up a chair and enjoy yourself.

Someone who sees writing as fun—pure fun—just another part of the sheer joy of living?  Now that sounds like the best recommendation for a beta reader anyone could ever make.

P.S.: Oh, and if I were beta partners with Frank Herbert, that would mean I could give him a little feedback too, right?  Because I would like to talk with him, just a bit, about gender roles in his books.  That’s one thing I think he could’ve handled better.

18 responses »

  1. emaginette says:

    I read Dune when I was in high school and it had an impact. I should really read it again. Great choice in beta reader. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rolandclarke says:

    As a decades-long fan of Frank Herbert and his writing, your choice and reasoning are impeccable, J S. Great science and well-worked in, ecology before it was a fad, and yes, great use of language. Back when I tried writing SF, he’d have been one of my top choices – along with Ray Bradbury. Great post – with even Mary Shelley mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jlennidorner says:

    Excellent choice! Hitting high on the sci-fi wishlist for a great beta.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like your choice and your reasoning. Real science in science fiction without being teachy- yes! Beautiful prose – yes! Down-to-earth ready to live life to the full kinda guy – yes! I also like how you mentioned what you look for in a beta reader. And your final point about reflection on Herbert’s work, too. Excellent post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Thank you! I know that IWSG question was mainly a wish fulfillment thing, but I felt like I had to say something about what I actually look for in beta readers. It doesn’t matter how famous somebody is. Compatibility is more important.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Olga Godim says:

    It is amazing how many different writers we choose in answer to this one question, and how much our reasons for the choice vary. Everyone has different priorities in our own writing, and they come through clearly in our choices of an ideal beta partner. Hooray to being different.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. mlouisebarbourfundyblue says:

    Such a great choice, J.S. Frank Herbert is a wonderful writer, and I have read “Dune” a number of times over my life. I love it when authors get the sciency stuff right Actually I’ve read all the wonderful sci-fi writers you’ve mentioned. Stay safe and well!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. yvettecarol says:

    Excellent choice, J.S. And I like your reasoning behind it. How cool would it be to work with him? Wow!

    Liked by 1 person

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