Threes: The Beta Version

Kathleen Dailey

In honor of Beta Reader Appreciation Day, October 13, 2000. With thanks and apologies to Mercedes Lackey, Leslie Fish, and the 3,734 people who've already filked "Threes" in every fandom, genre, and profession. Sing along, folks--y'all know the tune and the scansion.

Deep inside the manuscript,
Miles from real life's call,
The beta goes a-travelling,
To starship, keep, and hall:
Armed with pencil bluer than
The bluest lake or sky,
"Tracking changes" software, and
Her keen all-seeing eye.

Three things betas save us from:
The dreaded "told not shown,"
The tenses mixed without intent,
The scene that's not our own.

Little does the beta care
For sleep or drink or food:
She shepherds us through case and clause
And the subjunctive mood.
Oh, fandoms may grow cold and dark,
And Muses turn their backs:
The beta reader buckles down
And covers all our tracks.

Three things are most perilous:
A blond-haired golden Kirk
A weepy, girly Mr. Spock
A villain who's a jerk.

On newsgroups and on lists we post
Our newly minted fics
With pounding hearts we steel ourselves
For readers' stones and sticks:
And when the praise is heaped upon
Our efforts brave and bright,
We sing our betas' glories
Throughout the starstruck night.

Of three things be wary:
The dangler unattached
The adverbs that proliferate
The howlers we can't catch.

Oh, all you beta readers
Standing close at hand
Who lay aside your own fine work
To help us understand
The truth about the story,
And the poem, and the song--
Blessings, peace, and joy to you.
Prosper and live long!

Three things trust above all else:
The Muse who's never lied
The character who speaks to you
The beta at your side.

© 2000 Kathleen Dailey. All rights reserved.

Feedback is very much appreciated. Please send your comments to Kathleen Dailey.

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