Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beta Readers part 1

Every writer, who wants to be a great writer, should have a few beta readers overlook their text. And when you receive feedback, read it, but don’t comment on it for at least 24 hours. Allow your brain to let go of all that you think is “right” about your story. And open your mind to something “new.” This doesn’t mean you’ll change everything to match the beta reader’s comments, but it does mean that you’re open to ideas to make the project better.

On Tuesday, I received 4 beta reader reviews of The Messengers/Message Runners. I asked everyone to rate the book from 1 to 10 (10 being the highest) and so far my score is right at an 8. Not bad I’d think especially for a first novel. But I’d prefer a rating of 9+. (LOL)  It was fun, understanding which readers connected with what characters or situations. It was great getting feedback from them on style, language, characterizations, etc.

After a day to contemplate that my masterpiece (actually I knew it needed a bit more work) wasn’t perfect and shifting through all the ideas and points that the readers made. It came down to two main areas that needed to be addressed. (I won’t point out which ones here.) I already plan to rewrite most of those areas. I’ve contemplated simply removing chunks and reworking sections; but I’ve learned that most of the time it’s better to simply start over, if you have a large section that needs to be fixed. I struggle, as I’m sure others do, with what part of a scene to keep and which part to toss, but having the knowledge of the scene, and rewriting the scene allows me to focus only on the main parts it. So next week I’ll sit down to restructure/write. (Waiting gives my brain more time to digest the new scenes.)
Note on Personality:

For my beta readers I used all women. I’m always concerned about the female characters, since I’m a guy. Also knowing that women are more likely to pick up books for children, I thought it best to get more womanly advice. LOL

My beta readers consisted of one middle school teacher in the higher 45 and up age range, an avid reader/editor in the 35 to 45 age range, a fantasy editor in the 35 to 45 age range, and a reader closer to college aged. I liked the dynamic to understand how people may view the book. Luckily everyone loved my lead. YAY! But they varied greatly on the side characters, who/what they thought was important, who/what should be cut, etc.  In fact, I was left myself with more questions than answers. So I focused in on the two major areas that all of them made comments about and those are the places I plan to spend the next few weeks fixing, before I find a new set of beta readers. It’s important to me that the book is fresh in a reader’s mind, so they can’t “fill in the holes” with information they already know.

The experience for me has been great. I like to learn and I know this process will make the work better.

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