Friday, September 5, 2014

Beta Readers

What I needed from my Beta readers:
·        They couldn’t be overly nice. Writing has to develop and grow—“It’s all great,” won’t make that happen.
·        They had to point out the weaknesses, the things that dropped them out of the narrative.
·        They had to tell me the truth. Will the parts make up a greater whole?
What I’ve gotten back from them so far—the gamut between great, insightful responses and…nothing.

My husband has been my first reader ever since I became brave enough to let someone else in on my writing.

He started out his college career as an English literature major before the sciences won him over.  He has always been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy, as well as history and economics, to name a few of his interests. I trust his experience and expertise. He’ll always be my first reader, but I needed more variety.

Since I’ve waited a few years to get to this point with my first novel, I figured I had to count my adult sons among my Beta readers. It would be a stretch; they spent their teen years playing video games and reading science fiction and fantasy novels like their dad. What I’ve written wouldn’t be their cup of tea, but I would especially value remarks related to dialogue and current technological aspects. They were good sports and agreed to give it a go.

I chose two other readers who have roots in the Bishop Hill/Galva area. Both of these people are knowledgeable readers with writing experience. I wanted them to let me know if the tone and themes rang true, or if I went too far off base to be believable.

My husband got back to me first with corrections and suggestions. He probably felt a little pressure, but it worked out for me. I used his feedback right away.

My kids got started, but didn’t finish. I need to find out how far they’d gotten before their work and travel got in the way.

Another reader got part way through, but couldn’t finish because of a variety of things that included having a body part replaced. Ouch! She still gave me some good stuff.

The last reader is MIA. To be fair, she warned me. But it’s in my nature to be ever hopeful.

I spent a lot of time over these choices for Beta readers and I will make due with the feedback I receive. I know I will owe them a lot for their time and care. 

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