Writing to a Deadline Part 9: “And the beta-reading verdict is?”

If you’re just hopping into the insanity that is my writing life, check out my previous “Writing to a Deadline” posts or this won’t make sense.

Note:  This post is mainly for those of you who have not yet been through the beta-process.  Just to prepare you for what it can be like.

Last week I sent out my story LAST WINTER RED to a small Beta Army.  And back the comments come…

Three fast “I just read it” responses came back in one day.  “Liked the story” on each of them.  At least that’s a step in the right direction.  Next step… they will go through and make suggestions.

Time to wait again

The professor got back to me noting “Great story” but lack of setting.  Yeah… I’m famous for that.  I only give what’s absolutely necessary.  I’ll think that over.  There was also a small element that she thought was lost in the middle.  Easy fix, but it will put me close to the word count.  She was also totally engaged and drawn in by my beginning. Yay!

Critical Beta Reader #1 comes back, and hates my beginning. She didn’t mention lack of setting at all.  (Don’t you love contradicting crits?)   She pointed out a few details that she thought were overdone.  Easy fixes.  When she finished, there was more red than black on the page, though. Ugh.

Getting nervous. Re-write of one section per Professor’s comment brings me up to 10,075 words.  Yikes! Editing per Critical Beta #1’s suggestions brings it back down to 9,975. Whew!

My long time beta partner says it just needs a little tweaking.  She likes the beginning, but not my starting point.  She’s probably right, and this might be what critical Beta #1 meant, too.  I think I can fix this now that I understand better…  Just move the starting point three minutes later of where it is now.  She also suggested inserting a little more turmoil over the conflict early on for the MC.  Hmmmm.  I can do that, my only concern is only having an extra 25 words before the 10,000 word maximum.

Romance Beta comes back and actually liked the kissy stuff????  Yea for me!  She pointed out things that the others didn’t even see.

Memoir writer also pointed out some minor things that others didn’t notice.  Easy fixes.

Two people thought my closing six words were absolutely brilliant.  They both mentioned it without me asking… but Critical Beta # 1 deleted them without comment.  Too funny.

So many suggestions fly at you so quickly… you need to decide what fits for what YOU want in the work… and at the same time, please the masses… not everyone.  It’s impossible to resonate with every reader.

Clock is ticking.

Three people made the same comment about a rock in the well during my climax.  Going for a complete re-write of that scene.

Ugh… no words to spare.

Tick tock, tick tock… no pressure.


16 responses to “Writing to a Deadline Part 9: “And the beta-reading verdict is?”

  1. You are cracking me up. 🙂

  2. I would be celebrating because they all liked the story and would “fix” things that more than one suggested (or that you can really see as needing to be fixed). I wouldnt try to change everything they suggest. But thats just me. 🙂

    • Yes, I try to look closely at what multiple people had problems with. Anything else, I go with my gut… especially if they were the only one who noticed it.

      • You have to…imagine trying to change every little thing everyone said? You’d drive yourself nuts…and lets face it, writers are already a little bit nuts… 😛

  3. And you probably know that King also says if only one person says something, you’re probably okay ignoring it, unless, of course, you agree. 🙂

  4. I feel for you. The hardest part after crits is figuring out what to do and what not to do. It’s always a guessing game –trying to figure out what advice you should take and which you shouldn’t. Good luck on revisions!

  5. Stephen King in his book “On Writing” says that if half your test readers think one thing and the other half think the opposite, the writer gets to choose which direction to go. Of course, that may be easier said than done…

    • It leaves you spinning trying to decide which one may be right. Sometimes I completely re-write. In the case of my last six words… They stay. I love the bold image and simplicity.

  6. Betas and critique partners are wonderful and I would be lost without mine, but even with all those good intentions, an agent or publisher can still come back with “I don’t like it. Fix it.” So many times with me, I either didn’t like the suggested fixes, or I did, but I wondered why my betas and critique partners didn’t have the same comments. I guess that’s why we’re betas and critique partners and not agents and publishers. 🙂

  7. Hey Jennifer, I had the same problem with setting. Have you read any Ken Follet? I took one of his novels and highlighted every time he wrote about setting. I did this to see why I don’t skim his narration about setting. I did this after I read his entire novel. I discovered he only writes about setting that is relevant to the plot. The more relevant the more descriptive he his. This helped my add setting to my novel and helped me know when I was just putting it in as filler. Have fun with the rest of the comments.

    • You know, Kristina, I have several authors who I admire greatly for the way they handle certain aspects of writing. So many of my books are highlighted and flagged so I can go back and study how they did what they did, For example, I have yet to find anyone who can come close to world-building or writing fight scenes for fantasy like George R.R. Martin and Raymond Feist. And the more YA novels I read, the more I learn. “Shatter Me” blew me out of the water in it’s style and prose. That book gave me a sense of “different” and “unique”, two words writer’s often hear from agents and publishers.

    • I try to do this too, but my betas always complain. I don’t like too much description.