Thursday, January 22, 2009

Beta Readers



My first line of defense in garnering a critique is my husband, George. He’s honest, thoughtful, and insightful about my work and he always offers a suggestion to better it. Plus, it’s cool to hear him laugh out loud when he reads in the next room.

I also have other friends and relatives who read my first book. This isn’t always easy, because it’s hard to convince people who care about you that, yes, you can be brutally honest with me. I’m a writer, I can take it. (For those who can’t, you’re in the wrong business.) Now, if I felt someone might be holding back I would hound them with specific questions until they gave me something other than, “It’s good.”

What did you think of the scene where this happened?
Do you think so-and-so is a believable character?
Did you buy the metaphor about the guy…?

I was relentless, and you know what? It worked. Besides spelling errors or plot holes, I got great feedback and the book is better for it.

Sometimes you may disagree with a critique, which is fine as long as the work is better for it and not because your ego was bruised. Because honestly, no book is perfect just they way it is. Everyone makes mistakes and it helps to have fresh eyes point them out. The most successful writers in publishing re-write after a test read. Which is why they’re successful. So don’t take it personally.

On the other hand, be careful. There will always be those people who criticize to boost their own ego, so if it smells false, follow your gut.

To find critique groups, join writer’s organizations like Sisters in Crime, or jump on websites like AbsoluteWrite, or even sign up to listservs. Yahoo has tons of writing groups, and many of them offer critique partners.

1 comment:

jerzegirl said...

I belong to a real time writer's group, and several on line ones. What I have a problem with is one person will say to change something, and then when I do another person will say they don't like the change.

Sometimes I feel it gets to the point that I lose my voice.