As-salamu Alaykum (peace be upon you), Dear Readers...

NEW for September 18, 2016:

This blog has MOVED to the Muslim Writers Club, a new website dedicated to all of your writing needs.

Here are some of the pages you will find on the new site:

Jobs and Internships for Muslim Writers – Check out the latest opportunities.

Freelance Markets for Muslim Writers – A list of magazines, newspapers, and websites that want to work with YOU, insha'Allah. Includes many paying markets.

Book Publishers of Interest to Muslim Writers – Have you written a book? Start your search for a publisher here.

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Writing Activities for Muslim Children – Coming Soon!

Q&A Page - Get your questions about the art (and business) of writing answered.

Articles and Other Resources – Even more resources for Muslim writers.

Hope to see you at the new site, Insha'Allah!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Importance of Beta Readers

I started out as a non-fiction editor, but I have been editing (and reading) more Muslim-authored fiction in recent months. Let me say, first of all, that I am a great fan of fiction with Islamic themes. This is an exciting new genre that is sure to grow and flourish in the coming years. So many of us enter Islam and essentially abandon secular works of fiction because of the many haram/questionable elements they contain. Many of us further restrict our children's reading of fiction, fearing the negative influences of story-lines containing witchcraft, boy-girl relationships, and other issues.

That's why it is wonderful to see creative works of fiction authored by Muslims who understand the special needs and concerns of our communities. In this type of fiction, there are consequences for immoral actions. Characters become role models for our children and show them different ways of navigating everyday situations and challenges in a way that a lecture or magazine article does not.

The more Muslim-authored fiction I read, however, the more I am becoming concerned by authors who are not taking the time to make sure that their stories are both Islamically correct and pleasing to the readers they are written to serve. If you are writing fiction (and even non-fiction, for that matter), you really need to consider having a number of beta readers look at your work before getting it published. People of knowledge (such as scholars) will be able to help you consider elements of your story that may be wrong, misleading, or only partially correct. Parents and others will be able to help you identify passages or plot-lines that may be offensive, controversial, or questionable. Generally speaking, if something offends people that much - and it is not central to the story, it may be better just to remove it for the sake of appealing to a wider readership...especially when we are talking about works for children. But you may not even realize how offensive something can be if you do not give people the chance to read and react first.

I put this out as general advice to beginning authors. As a community, we barely read, and when we do, we are extremely it is extra-important to take people's opinions into consideration. In order for Muslim-authored fiction to move forward, it needs the support of the Muslim community, and this will not happen if people see too many things they dislike in the books they buy.

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This blog is maintained by Amel Abdullah, a freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator.