Things Ive learned from my AMAZING Beta Readers and Critique Partners and why they are SO valuable and amazing.
1. The obvious reason: having an extra pair of eyes look at your work. When you write something, and read it 1 million and 2 times, you skip over things and miss things that just having a fresh pair of eyes can catch on the first round. Just helping you realize and fix all the tiny grammatical errors…
a. Examples: "I searched in the spot in knew his mind was..." word correction there.
b. "I opened my eyes to see look at him," extra word?
c. "She always claimed she was a morning person, though I have to witness that." Missing the yet?
d. "I could see his lips twitch the slightest but down." slightest bit down?
2. Then they offer you advice and tips on how to make your work better. When you are writing, sometimes you KNOW what you want to say, and how you want the story to go, but sometimes its hard to actually SAY it, (or WRITE it in this case.) Sometimes you just cant think of a way to make it flow right.
a. "We were walking down a narrow path which made us walk closer together and made our shoulders touch. I suppressed the sigh..."
It feels stiff. Try something like…"We walked down a narrow path, our bodies moving closer together. I suppressed the sigh that threatened to escape as our shoulders touched and my body relaxed at the familiar comfort of his body."
3. They give you encouragement and point out specific things that they like, and they think you do well, so you can do more of it.
a. “I still don’t know what to think about her relationship with Alex, having the bad guy show up at the height of their argument is great. You have tension going on Allison, and then you blew the lid off of it (in a great way!) when you brought the bad guy in. In fact when I said before that a bad guy has to have a reason for me other than just being bad, her fear of him might be what overcomes that issue for me.”
4. And they tell you when you have WAY too many words and just need to cut some stuff out. This can be very hard to hear. You have spent so much time writing these words down, but if you want a great book, sometimes things have to be cut or rearranged.
a. “There is still a glob of exposition at the start of the chapter. You don’t want the character to keep repeating what is going on to herself, or the reader. This causes them to seem dense.”
5. And lastly, even when you think you have researched things and found the answer for everything, sometimes you are wrong. And you may not realize you are wrong until you have someone else look at your story, and realize that you are wrong. Its way better to have someone tell you that its wrong BEFORE you publish it!
a. Some back story… I listed Cratos as Zeus’s son. Thankfully, one of my people corrected me: “It’s a big nit-pick that I have, only because it is so common that so many people even in published work have this wrong and it drives me nuts. Cratos was never Zeus’s son. He was the son of Pallas & Styx. This makes him brother of Nike, the Greek goddess of justice. He does have a brother named Zelus, and he was Zeus’s companion, but never his son. I know I have just went on an epic rave about it, but I only did it because I am a huge mythology person.” This was HUGE For me… because I had NO idea anyone had ever even heard of Cratos before. When I found him, it was the first time I ever heard of him. And I have never seen his name in a book… so I had NO idea. BUT was vastly thankful to hear this. Because I can change this easily enough, and it does NOT interfere with the story. Plus I want to see this NOW before I publish it, so that I can fix the issue!!!!!
So for ALL these reasons and MORE, Beta Readers and Critique Partners are sooo very valuable and should be well respected and appreciated!!!!