Debra ponders Beta reads.
Recently I did a beta read (along with some line edits) for a sister of a friend of mine. I've done beta edits for another author friend of mine as well. They are always grateful for feedback, and it's nice to know I was able to help them out.
I am not as good at receiving help. When I used to attend my local RWA meetings, I always took advantage of our critiquing sessions, bringing the first chapter of all my new stories to be read and critiqued. But after that first chapter read, I tended to loan-wolf it. Since I stopped going to meetings, I rarely enlist the help of fellow authors for critiques or beta reads before submitting a mss to my editor. I'm not really sure why that is. Do I want the story to be a surprise for everyone? Am I able to dish out advice but not take it? Or is it just that I haven't found anyone to give me some solid, usable information?
Unfortunately, I think I fall into the middle category. When I first submitted my Fourth of July story, my editor asked for some tweaks, and wondered if I'd given it to a beta first. I had to confess that I hadn't. So, I passed it along to a writer friend, who gave me some good ideas. But I was reluctant to use them. I was stuck in the mindset of 'this-is-my-story-and-I'm-going-to-tell-the-the-way-I-want-to-regardless-of-what-anyone-else-says'. Not good. Any successful writer knows it's important to listen to and take into account sound, professionally given feedback. I definitely need to be more open to this kind of thing.
Something really great (In addition to getting to read a fabulous story.) that came out of doing the recent beta read was it has me chomping on the bit to get back to my own writing. Just reading someone else's pre-published writing made me think of my own WIPs. It was interesting that some of the things I was commenting on in her writing were things that I always need to strengthen in my own. (I even found myself editing and commenting with my own editor's 'voice' in my head.) But I think that's a common thing. It's so easy to spot 'issues' in others' writing and so hard to do it in our own. Which is another reason for a beta reader.
However, getting back to my own writing is not going to happen for a few weeks at this point. The end of the school year is fast approaching (Yay!!), and my sister is getting married on Friday (Double Yay!!!!) So there are a million things to do before I can really sit down and give my writing the credit it's due. It's been a long time since I've been motivated at all, so this is encouraging.
My goal is to have my current WIP finished by the end of the summer and close to ready to submit. Or at least ready for a beta read, because I really do need to be better at getting on the receiving end of those.
So how about you? Do you use beta readers? Critique partners? How do you take your mss to that final step before you submit?
Until next time,